Still no breakthrough in Western Sahara talks

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 | Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:42pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 (Reuters) – Three days oftalks between Morocco, Sahara’s Polisario Front independencemovement, Algeria and Mauritania on the political future ofWestern Sahara ended on Tuesday with little progress.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in1975, sparking an armed conflict with Polisario. The territoryof almost 400,000 people is the size of Britain and hasphosphates, fisheries and, potentially, oil and gas.

U.N.-mediated negotiations on the political future of theterritory began five years ago.

“Each party continued to reject the proposal of the other asthe sole basis for future negotiations, while reiterating theirwillingness to work together to reach a solution,” U.N. envoyChristopher Ross said in a statement.

“As was the case in the previous informal meetings, thediscussions took place in an atmosphere of serious engagement,frankness, and mutual respect,” he said of the talks that tookplace in Greentree, Long Island, near new York City.

Ross said the parties would meet again in Europe in June.

A U.N.-brokered ceasefire was reached in 1991 on the basisthat a referendum would be held to decide the fate of theterritory, but this never took place. there is a 230-strong U.N.mission Western Sahara.

With the political talks deadlocked, the focus shifted lastyear to human rights.

The Polisario accused Morocco of rights violations againstthe indigenous Sahrawi people and in October, Oscar-winningSpanish actor Javier Bardem urged the U.N. General Assembly toaddress the accusations. Morocco denies the charge. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

Still no breakthrough in Western Sahara talks

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