UN invites Western Sahara parties for new talks in December

The United Nations has invited Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front, a Western Sahara independence movement, for talks in Geneva on the conflict in the desert region next December. (AFP/Getty)
Updated 01 October 2018
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UN invites Western Sahara parties for new talks in December

GENEVA: The United Nations has invited Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front, a Western Sahara independence movement, for talks in Geneva on the conflict in the desert region next December, a UN spokeswoman said on Monday.
UN efforts have repeatedly failed to broker a settlement over the territory, contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario since Spanish colonial power left in 1974.
UN Special Envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler, has invited the foreign ministers of Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania as well as the secretary general of the Polisario Front for a meeting in Geneva, the spokeswoman said.
Morocco has insisted that Algeria should be brought to the negotiation table accusing it of backing Polisario militarily and financially. Algeria denies the accusations.
“The purpose of the meeting is to take stock of developments since the last round of negotiations, address regional issues, and discuss the next steps in the political process on Western Sahara,” the UN spokeswoman said.
The talks come after Kohler’s second visit to the region in June and after his briefing to the Security Council on 8 August, during which he announced his intention of organizing a meeting before the end of the year.
In 1991 the UN brokered a cease-fire between Morocco and the Polisario and supported a referendum on the region’s future, including the possibility of independence. The vote never happened.
Morocco has offered autonomy to Western Sahara, a thinly populated region that has rich fishing waters and phosphate deposits, and may also have oil and gas reserves.
Polisario and its ally Algeria reject this and say they want a referendum, with independence for Western Sahara as one of the options.


Withdrawal from nuclear arms deal ‘dangerous step’ for US: Moscow

Updated 21 October 2018
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Withdrawal from nuclear arms deal ‘dangerous step’ for US: Moscow

  • US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday
  • Trump announced US plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987

MOSCOW: Withdrawing from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with Russia as President Donald Trump has announced he plans to do is a dangerous step, Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned on Sunday.
“This would be a very dangerous step that, I’m sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS state news agency.
The treaty is “significant for international security and security in the sphere of nuclear arms, for the maintenance of strategic stability,” he stressed.
Russia condemned what he called attempts by the US to gain concessions “through a method of blackmail,” he added.
If the US continues to act “clumsily and crudely” and unilaterally back out of international agreements “then we will have no choice but to undertake retaliatory measures including involving military technology,” Ryabkov told RIA Novosti news agency.
“But we would not want to get to this stage,” he added.
On Saturday, Trump announced US plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987 by the then US president Ronald Reagan.
“We’re the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement, so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” said Trump.
But Ryabkov on Sunday denied Trump’s accusations, throwing the accusation back at Washington.
“We don’t just not violate (the treaty), we observe it in the strictest way,” he insisted.
“And we have shown patience while pointing out over the course of many years the flagrant violations of this treaty by the US itself.”
US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday.
“We hope that we will hear from him during meetings, tomorrow and the day after, more substantively and clearly what the American side intends to undertake,” said Ryabkov.
Earlier a foreign ministry source told Russian news agencies that the US move was connected to its “dream of a unipolar world,” an argument that Ryabkov also advanced.
“Apparently the existence of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty creates problems for establishing a line of total US domination and supremacy in the military sphere,” he said.