UN Envoy to Hold New Talks on Western Sahara Next Week
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's envoy, James Baker, will host a meeting in the United States next week to discuss the ongoing dispute over the Western Sahara, a UN spokesman announced Saturday.
Baker will meet with representatives of the Polisario Front and the governments of Algeria and Mauritania in Pinedale, Wyoming, August 27-29, the spokesman said, cited by the UN news service.
“The encounter was organized by Mr. Baker pursuant to the provisions of Security Council Resolution 1359,” the spokesman said.
Polisario has rejected a plan, put forward by Baker in June, to give autonomy to the former Spanish colony, which was annexed by Morocco in 1975.
Speaking to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on June 26, Baker said he wanted to try a new approach after 10 years of fruitless attempts to hold a referendum on the future of Western Sahara.
Both Morocco and Polisario have said they are committed to the idea of a referendum, but they cannot agree on who should be allowed to vote.
The autonomy plan envisages the election by the Saharawi of an executive and a parliament which would have control over such matters as the budget, taxes, maintenance of law and order, education, trade, mines, fisheries and roads.
Key aspects of administration such as defense, foreign affairs and the currency would, however, remain in the hands of Morocco, according to AFP.
Baker denied that the plan would kill prospects for a referendum, and said it "offers the possibility of a political solution to a very, very difficult and intractable problem," said the agency – Albawaba.com
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