Morocco and Western Sahara's independence movement have opened talks to try to resolve a 32-year-old dispute over the territory, but diplomats expected no quick breakthrough.
Officials from Morocco and the Polisario Front, as well as Algeria - where Polisario is based - and neighbouring Mauritania held two days of meetings at a private estate near New York. Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony after Madrid pulled out in 1975. The United Nations brokered an end to a low-level guerrilla war in 1991 but no political solution has followed.
The sides have met at least four times before, most recently in 2000 in Berlin, but United Nations officials have billed this week's talks as the best chance so far to end a dispute.
According to Reuters, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe told the closed talks the stalemate was "intolerable" and an agreement must be reached giving self-determination to Sahara's people, UN spokesperson Michele Montas said. "The entire international community (is) deeply interested in events unfolding here today. Time has come for a solution," she quoted Pascoe as telling the UN-mediated meeting.