UN Western Sahara envoy meets Spanish Fm

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UN Western Sahara envoy Christopher Ross wound up a regional tour with talks with Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Madrid – UN Western Sahara envoy Christopher Ross wound up a regional tour with talks with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in Madrid, a statement said Wednesday.

Ross, the UN secretary general's special envoy to the region, arrived in Madrid Tuesday at the end of his second tour of the region. He earlier visited Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania.

Moratinos "reiterated Spanish support for a political solution that would be fair, lasting and mutually acceptable with respect to the principle of self-determination within the framework of the United Nations Security Council resolutions," said the statement released by the Spanish foreign ministry.

Ross updated the Spanish minister on his efforts to relaunch negotiations started in June 2007 at Manhasset in New York, it added.

On Monday, he met 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.

Ross was last in the region in February but failed to break the deadlock in the currently stalled negotiations in Manhasset, 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

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