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Western Sahara: UNSG Envoy Invites Morocco and Polisario to ‘Separate’ Meetings in Berlin

Horst Köhler Satisfied with His 1st Visit to Sahara

Rabat – In efforts to promote direct negotiations over the Western Sahara conflict, the United Nations Secretary-General Envoy Horst Kohler has invited the two parties to “separate meetings” scheduled for January 24 and 26 in Berlin, Germany.

Akhbar Al Yaoum reported on Monday that Kohler aspires to open a new round of negotiations to find an agreed upon and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara conflict through the talks to be held in Berlin.

Moroccan news outlet Le360, quoting an unidentified source, said that the meetings will be “separate.”

It has been 10 years now since Morocco and the separatist group held talks. The last meeting of the two parties dates back to January 2008 in New York, where a series of talks, dubbed “the Manhasset negotiations,” were held between the Moroccan government and representatives of Polisario. The previous series of talks were aimed at reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara conflict.

According to Akhbar Al Yaoum, Kohler was expected to meet with Polisario’s leader, Ibrahim Ghali, and his representatives at the camps of Tindouf on January 24 and 26. However, according to Moroccan and international press, Kohler wants the meeting to be held in his homeland, Germany.

The idea of direct negotiations was welcomed by the separatist front, while Morocco seems “reluctant” to meet with Polisario, an unidentified source told Akhbar Al Yaoum.

In recent months, the front has been conducting a series of illegal maneuvers near the Guerguerat buffer zone, moves denounced by Morocco, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and MINURSO.

Kohler promises a new vision that might help to end the conflict between Morocco and Polisario. Earlier this month, the envoy for the Western Sahara met with African officials in order to promote collaborations with African leaders to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the territorial dispute.

Kohler held talks with African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, about the conflict between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario.

Kohler aims, through this strategy, to provide the African Union with an opportunity to propose solutions that would help to put an end to the conflict.

It remains to be seen will be amenable to the new approach adopted by the UNSG personal envoy and whether it will accept any involvement of the AU in the UN-led political process.

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