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Western Sahara: release of over 200 war prisoners

Western Sahara: Annan hails Polisario's release of over 200 war prisoners

Reacting to the latest developments concerning Western Sahara, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the release by the Frente Polisario of 243 prisoners of war who were repatriated to Morocco by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In a statement by his spokesman, the Secretary-General voiced hope that the Frente Polisario para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y del Río de Oro would also release all remaining prisoners, as called for by various Security Council resolutions and international humanitarian law.

"He also urges the parties to continue to cooperate with the ICRC to resolve the fate of all those unaccounted for since the beginning of the conflict," the spokesman said.

Bordered by Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria, Western Sahara was administered by Spain until 1976. The UN has been seeking a peace settlement since the withdrawal of Spain and the ensuing fight between Morocco, which had "reintegrated" the territory, and the Frente Polisario, which seeks self rule.

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