New York – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was planning to relaunch negotiations over the Western Sahara dispute “with a new spirit.”
The UN Security Council is expected to vote Thursday on a draft resolution backing a UN bid to re-start talks on settling the decades-old Western Sahara conflict.
The draft resolution calls on Morocco and the Polisario Front to “resume negotiations” with a view to achieving a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution.”
The council “affirms its full support for the commitment of the secretary-general and his personal envoy towards a solution to the question of Western Sahara,” according to the draft.
Earlier this month, Guterres told the council in a report that he planned to re-start negotiations “with a new spirit” to try to end one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.
“On the basis of consultations with the parties and neighboring States, members of the Group of Friends on Western Sahara and the Security Council, as well as other important stakeholders, I intend to propose that the negotiating process be relaunched with a new dynamic and a new spirit that reflect the Council’s guidance, with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable political solution that includes resolution of the dispute over the legal status of Western Sahara, including through agreement on the nature and form of the exercise of self-determination,” Guterres said in his report.
“For progress to be made, the negotiations must take into consideration the proposals and ideas of both parties. Algeria and Mauritania, as neighboring countries, can and should make important contributions to this process,” he added.
Guterres went on to say that the conflict “must come to an end as soon as possible to enable the region to confront security threats, economic challenges and human suffering in a coordinated and cooperative manner.”
He also underlined efforts exerted by the United Nations, “including those of my Personal Envoy, MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) and the agencies present on the ground” to resolve the dispute.
In this regard, the UN Secretary General recommended that the Council extend the mandate of MINURSO for a further 12 months, until 30 April 2018.