GENEVA: The UN secretary-general’s envoy for Western Sahara on Thursday wrapped up the first talks in six years over the future of the territory mostly controlled by Morocco, saying the sides have agreed to meet again early next year.
Former German President Horst Koehler hailed “a first, but an important, step” toward resolving a decades-old standoff between Morocco and the independence-minded Polisario Front.
He spoke on Thursday after two days of talks involving a top Polisario envoy and the foreign ministers of Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania over the country.
“From our discussions, it is clear to me that nobody wins from maintaining the status quo,” Koehler said, expressing hopes for the emergence of “environment in the region that is conducive to strong growth, job creation and better security.”
“My conviction remains that a peaceful solution to this conflict is possible,” he said in prepared remarks, declining to take questions from reporters after the talks at the UN in Geneva. “I look forward to inviting the delegations to a second round-table meeting in the first quarter of 2019.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “Discussions that took place in an atmosphere of serious engagement, frankness and mutual respect, and the fact that the delegation agreed with Mr. Kohler to come back for a second round is something that is clearly a positive step forward.”