The US is closely following developments in the Western Sahara dossier.
Rabat – In a phone conversation with Mauritania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale commented on this week’s UN-led Western Sahara discussion being held in Geneva.
In his conversation, Hale said that the US supported efforts made by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler.
According to Mauritania’s state-owned news agency AMI, Hale said that his country also backs any “initiative that aims to end the Western Sahara conflict,” hoping that an end will soon be reached.
Weeks before the kick off of the roundtable and the adoption of Resolution 2240, Hale and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Moroccan analysts speculated that Guterres might have been trying to convince the US to vote for a one-year extension for MINURSO. The Security Council, however, voted for a six-month extension for the mandate of MINURSO on October 31.
The two-day roundtable discussion, which began yesterday and continues today, is held behind closed doors. Morocco’s delegation is led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita.
None of the members of the delegations have commented on the roundtable yet. The delegation includes three Sahrawis: President of the Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra region Sidi Hamdi Ould Errachid; President of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region Ynja Khattat; and Fatima Adli, a member of the Smara municipal council.
The presence of Sahrawis in the delegation angered pro-Polisario news outlets, including “Futuro Sahara.” The news outlet called the Sahrawis representing Morocco in the Geneva talks “traitors.”
The three Sahrawis represents a significant message from Morocco as it strengthens the legitimate representation of Sahrawis.
Moroccan analysts predict that the negotiations are unlikely to lead to future negotiations as long as Algeria does not admit playing a role in the conflict.