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Latest Round Of Talks On Western Sahara Begins

Latest round of UN-led talks on Western Sahara begins

17 March 2008 - The fourth round of talks on Western Sahara, bringing together representatives from Morocco and the Frente Polisario under United Nations auspices, got under way today on the outskirts of New York City, according to a UN spokesperson.

The talks, held at the Greentree Estate in Manhasset on Long Island, also include representatives of neighbouring states, Algeria and Mauritania, and are facilitated by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, Peter van Walsum.

Following the third round of discussions this past January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that while it was a positive sign that the two sides had committed to a process of negotiations, they remained far apart on substantive issues.

He said the talks were limited largely to preliminary discussions on thematic subjects such as administration, competencies and organs, and the parties discussed but did not agree on any confidence-building measures.

Mr. Ban noted, however, in a communiqué issued by Mr. van Walsum after the talks, that the two sides "agreed on the need to move the process into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations."

Last month Mr. van Walsum visited the region for in-depth consultations with the parties.

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in the Territory since September 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario.

ENDS

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