( dpa ) - A fourth round of negotiations will take place next month between Morocco and the Polisario to try to seek a settlement over the disputed Western Sahara territory, the UN said Monday.
The meeting will take place March 11 to 13 in a Long Island estate near New York City, where envoys from Morocco, the Polisario, Mauritania and Algeria held their previous discussions without solving differences over the territory, a Spanish colony until the 1970s.
In a report to the UN Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki- moon said the third round of talks in early January saw dynamic interaction between the parties, but "there was hardly any exchanges that could be characterized as negotiations."
Moroccan and Polisario representatives reiterated their commitment to the process of negotiations, Ban said.
"Nevertheless, their stated positions remained far apart on ways to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara," Ban said in the report.
UN mediator Peter van Walsum, a former Dutch UN ambassador, will visit Western Sahara in March before the conducting the fourth round of negotiations, the report said.
In a major switch of positions last year, Morocco, which had wanted to integrate Western Sahara for decades, decided to give the territory autonomous status. The Polisario, once an armed rebel group with support from Algeria, had wanted the territory to become an independent nation, but said autonomy should be decided by a popular referendum.