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Next round of UN-backed talks on Western Sahara slated for next week

14 July 2011 – United Nations-backed informal talks between the parties to the Western Sahara dispute, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, will be held next week in New York, the world body announced today.

The talks, scheduled for 19 to 21 July, are taking place at the invitation of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, and will also include representatives of the two neighbouring States, Algeria and Mauritania.

The UN has been involved in efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended.

Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy while the position of the Frente Polisario is that the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.

“During the upcoming talks, the parties will, as previously agreed, further deepen their discussion of their respective proposals on a settlement, including the issue of the electoral corps and mechanisms for self-determination,” according to the announcement issued by the UN.

They will also further discuss the new ideas put forward by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a report issued earlier this year, and have the opportunity to review the status of confidence-building measures, continue their discussion on de-mining and engage in a preliminary examination of the topic of natural resources.

The last round of informal talks was held at the beginning of June, also in New York.

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