UN Western Sahara envoy in Spain
UN Western Sahara envoy Christopher Ross arrived in Madrid on the latest leg of a regional tour.Madrid – UN Western Sahara envoy Christopher Ross arrived in Madrid Tuesday on the latest leg of a regional tour which has already taken him to Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania.
Ross, the UN secretary general's special envoy to the region, flew to Madrid from Rabat for a meeting late Tuesday with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, a ministry spokeswoman said.
On Monday, he met with Morocco's Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri in Rabat, and afterwards said he was optimistic about the chances for a first informal meeting between Morocco and Polisario guerrillas on the future of the disputed region.
He had arrived on Saturday in Morocco.
Ross was last in the region in February but failed to break the deadlock in currently stalled negotiations in Manhasset, New York state, where four previous rounds of talks failed to reach agreement. Both sides have agreed in principle to another round at an unspecified date.
Morocco annexed the territory after the withdrawal of the region's colonial power Spain in 1975, leading to a bitter guerrilla war with the Polisario Front. It ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991.
The northwest African kingdom has proposed considerable autonomy for the Western Sahara, but argues that its sovereignty is a non-negotiable historical fact. The Algerian-backed Polisario demands a referendum on self-determination, with independence as one of the options.
AFP / Expatica