UN envoy calls for progress on Western SaharaListen /
The top United Nations envoy for Western Sahara has urged Morocco and the Polisario Front to move swiftly into what he calls "serious negotiations" to resolve the conflict over the future of the territory.
Christopher Ross issued a statement on Monday following his meeting in Madrid with the Foreign Minister of Spain.
Western Sahara, which was a Spanish colony until Spain officially withdrew in 1976, is disputed between Morocco which claims it, and the Polisario Front which wants independence for the territory.
After Morocco and the Polisario Front accepted a settlement plan in 1988, the Security Council established the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in 1991, but no progress has been made.
UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky has more.
"In the statement, the Personal Envoy said that the conflict over the final status of Western Sahara has gone for far too long. He said that it would be a serious miscalculation to believe that the status quo can last, since it is now threatened by the rise of extremist, terrorist, and criminal elements in the Sahel region. Mr. Ross said the conflict can be resolved if there is a will to engage in real dialogue and compromise to find a solution that is honourable for all."
The UN envoy urged key members of the international community to use their influence to encourage Morocco and the Polisario Front to start negotiations to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara.