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Cablegate: Unsc: Briefing On Western Sahara Negotiations;

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUCNDT #0568/01 1932041
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 122041Z JUL 07
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2241
INFO RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS IMMEDIATE 1314
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID IMMEDIATE 6238
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT IMMEDIATE 0070
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT IMMEDIATE 0943
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA IMMEDIATE 0486

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000568

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV UNSC MO AG WI
SUBJECT: UNSC: BRIEFING ON WESTERN SAHARA NEGOTIATIONS;
U.S. BELIEVES MEANINGFUL AUTONOMY IS A REALISTIC WAY FORWARD

REF: STATE 96096

1. Summary: In a July 11 closed briefing to the Security
Council, the Secretary General's Personal Envoy for Western
Sahara Peter van Walsum explained that he had included
recommendations in his report that were eventually deleted in
order to suggest a way for the parties to move beyond
"atmospherics" and begin to address substantive issues during
the August negotiations. Responding to van Walsum's remarks,
several delegations stressed the importance of the strict UN
neutrality in dealing with the Moroccan and Polisario
proposals. Van Walsum's comment that delegations should
consider whether their support for either Morocco or the
Polisario was "useful" or merely a "feel good" measure
brought sharp responses from South Africa and Russia.
Ambassador Sanders delivered the U.S. statement expressing
its belief that meaningful autonomy is a promising and
realistic way forward. The Council approved a Press
Statement welcoming the report and expressing hope for
progress during the next round of talks in August. End
Summary.

2. In his July 11 closed consultations briefing to the
Security Council on the "Report of the Secretary-General on
the status and progress of the negotiations on Western
Sahara" (S/2007/385), the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy
for Western Sahara Peter van Walsum said that he had included
recommendations that were eventually deleted (following
objections by Morocco, the Polisario and other parties) in
order to provide an impetus for the parties to move beyond
"atmospherics" and begin to address substantive issues during
the August negotiations. (Note: the deleted sections had
included, inter alia, a recommendation that the parties focus
on the Moroccan autonomy proposal (objectionable to the
Polisario) and had suggested that sovereignty was a issue
(objectionable to Morocco. End Note). Van Walsum said that
the parties have thus far persisted in maintaining their
incompatible positions, particularly on issues of
self-determination and sovereignty that it was necessary to
find a way for them to move on to substance.

3. Council members generally expressed satisfaction with the
progress of the negotiations. But van Walsum's comments on
three issues -- expectations for the August round of talks;
the role of the UN; and the role of "friends" of the parties
-- stimulated some lively commentary from Council members.
Van Walsum told the Council that he had not yet developed an
agenda for the August 10-11 talks, but planned to do so after
meeting with the parties in early August. He confessed that
he was concerned that he would have nothing of substance to
report to the Council after the August meeting. But several
delegations, reacting to van Walsum's strong preference for
the parties to begin substantive discussions, said that they
had no expectation that the parties would necessarily engage
substantively at such an early stage. Belgium, supported by
Russia, suggested that at this point in the negotiations
process was equivalent to substance and that the role of the
UN should be to act as a neutral facilitator and as the
guardian of the process. Italy added that the time had not
yet come for the UN to step into an end game. Rather it was
important to refrain from applying unbalanced pressure on one
side or the other that would psychologically disadvantage one
party or the other and thereby contribute to inflexibility.

4. During the discussion, responding to a question, Van
Walsum said that while he advocated the concept of
"responsible support" for one side or the other by parties
not directly involved in the talks, he wanted such supporting
parties to look within themselves and ask whether such
support for either the Moroccans or the Polisario was
"useful" or merely made them "feel good." To be specific,
van Walsum continued, some entities had supported the
Polisario to such an extent that they are now not inclined to
concede on the issue of a referendum with independence as an
option, but these same entities had not leant support
sufficient to really change the situation on the ground. Van
Walsum said he felt such support produced retrenchment and a
perpetuation of the status quo that should be avoided in
future.

5. In a sharp rebuke, South Africa PR Kumalo said South
Africa supported the Polisario cause unabashedly and
unashamedly, that he himself was sitting in the Council
because of support provided by other nations during the
Apartheid era, that the Western Sahara issue remained the
last decolonization issue on the African Union agenda, and
that the ultimate disposition of the situation had to involve
self-determination. Russia emphasized the need for absolute
and strict neutrality by the UN in dealing with the Moroccan
and Polisario proposals. In response to van Walsum's
interpretation that the intent of UNSCR 1754 was to provide
more weight to the Moroccan plan, Russia said that UNSCR 1754
had provided no basis which to favor one proposal over the
other and that it was important to avoid interpretation to
more important to emphasize implementation.

6. Ambassador Sanders delivered the U.S. statement (reftel)
expressing the U.S. belief that meaningful autonomy is a
promising and realistic way forward and that the serious and
credible Moroccan initiative could provide a realistic
framework for negotiations. Because she was the next-to-last
speaker, no other Council members commented on her remarks.
Following closed consultations, Ambassador Sanders also read
the U.S. statement to the Press at the Press Stakeout.

7. The Security Council approved a Press Statement (below)
offered by "Friends of Western Sahara" and based on a U.S.
draft. Text follows:

Press Statement on Western Sahara

The members of the Security Council welcome the report of the
Secretary-General of 29 June (S/2007/385) on the status and

SIPDIS
progress of the negotiations on Western Sahara.

The members of the Security Council are very pleased that the
parties and States of the region agreed to meet on June 18
and 19 in accordance with resolution 1754 (2007).

The members of the Security Council support the agreement by
the parties that negotiations will continue in the second
week of August under UN auspices and express their hope the
parties will use the next round of negotiations to engage in
good faith in substantial negotiations on the way forward in
accordance with resolution 1754 (2007).

The members of the Security Council reaffirm their strong
support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his
Personal Envoy to implement resolution 1754 (2007).
End Text.
KHALILZAD

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