Expatica news

Spain offers help to end W.Sahara conflict

Spain has offered to help end the Western Sahara conflict between separatist rebels and Morocco, Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said Monday after meeting UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Her comments came a day after the latest round of talks in New York between the Polisario Front rebels and the Moroccan government failed to end their three-decade-old deadlock.

The conflict over the North African territory erupted after Spain withdrew in 1975.

“Spain is ready to give its help to the United Nations and the two sides to reach a just and durable accord,” Jimenez told reporters after talks with Ban and UN envoy on Western Sahara Christopher Ross.

“It is a difficult conflict that has lasted years, and something has to be done to find a solution.”

She added that the UN’s Group of Friends of Sahara should be composed of ministers instead of experts.

The United Nations brokered a ceasefire in the conflict in 1991 but no progress has been made in bringing the two sides together.

The United Nations has backed the Polisario Front’s demand for a self-determination referendum in Western Sahara, but Morocco has only agreed to greater autonomy.

“Each party continues to reject the proposal of the other as a sole basis for future negotiations,” UN special envoy Ross said Sunday after the ninth round of talks since 2007.