Rabat – A Moroccan delegation, led by Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, is currently holding talks with the United Nations Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler in Lisbon, Portugal. The delegation will inform Kohler of Morocco’s firm stance over the four-decade-long conflict.
The high-level meeting is the second of its kind since the appointment of Kohler in August 2017.
After expressing his gratitude to the Moroccan delegation for accepting his request, Kohler seized the opportunity to wish King Mohammed VI a speedy recovery after he successfully underwent heart surgery, according to Moroccan TV channel 2M.
At Kohler’s invitation, the Moroccan delegation also included Omar Hilale (Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations), Sidi Hamdi Ould Errachid (President of the Laayoun-Sakia El Hamra region), and Yajna Khattat (President of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region), according to a statement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The diplomatic meeting, which started at 9:50 a.m (GMT), will be the last one held before the submission of an annual report prepared by Kohler on the Western Sahara conflict. Kohler will submit his report to the United Nations’ Security Council in early April.
This meeting is part of Morocco’s permanent cooperation with the UN, which seeks to find a fair solution to end the conflict over the Western Sahara.
The Moroccan delegation is intended to inform Kohler of Morocco’s firm position on the Western Saharan conflict, as outlined in the speech of the King commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the Green March last November 6, 2017.
Throughout his speech, the King emphasized Morocco’s established principles and framework of reference on which the Moroccan position is based.
The principles include the following:
- Firstly, ‘No’ to any solution to the Sahara question that does not acknowledge Morocco’s full sovereignty over its Sahara and the Autonomy Initiative, which has been declared serious and credible by the international community;
- Secondly, draw lessons from past experience, for the problem is not so much finding a solution as determining the process that produces it; for this reason, all the parties that have concocted this dispute must fully shoulder their responsibility in order for a final solution to be reached;
- Thirdly, ensure full compliance with the terms of reference adopted by the UN Security Council when addressing this artificial regional dispute, for the Security Council is the only international body tasked with overseeing the settlement process;
- Fourthly, outright rejection of any transgression or attempt to infringe on Morocco’s legitimate rights or its best interests; rejection of any obsolete proposals designed to divert the settlement process from the set terms of reference, or to introduce or impose other issues which are dealt with by other relevant bodies.
Morocco had received a similar invitation from Kohler in January to hold indirect talks with the parties regarding the four-decade-long conflict. The talks would have be hosted in Berlin, Germany. However, Morocco refused to attend the meeting due to the attendance of the Polisario Front, which had been conducting illegal operations in the Guerguerat during the past few months.
In addition to Morocco and the Polisario Front, Kohler also invited Algeria and Mauritania to attend, in the hopes of opening another round of negotiations in Berlin, Germany. Algeria, Mauritania, and the Polisario all attended previous meetings hosted by the Personal Envoy.