New UN envoy for Western Sahara heads to region for consultations
UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon's personal envoy for Western Sahara is on his way to the region for consultations with the parties concerned, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, as part of UN efforts to help broker a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution regarding the territory's status, UN officials said here on Tuesday.
This will be the first visit to the area for Christopher Ross since he took up the post last month. It follows meetings he held at the UN Headquarters in New York last week, including with the UN secretary-general and members of the Security Council, as well as with representatives from Morocco and the Frente Polisario.
The UN envoy will be in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, on Wednesday, followed by Tindouf and Algiers. He will then travel to Madrid and Paris, the capitals of two of the members of the Group of Friends, on Feb. 25-27, the officials said.
Ross, who replaced Peter van Walsum, is expected to return to New York following the trip for further consultations at the UN Headquarters.
Several rounds of UN-led talks, bringing together representatives from Morocco and the Frente Polisario, held last year resulted in the parties agreeing to continue negotiations in good faith toward a solution to the issue.
Morocco holds that its sovereignty over Western Sahara should be recognized, while the Frente Polisario's position is that the territory's final status should be decided in a referendum that includes independence as an option, Xinhua reported.