Western Sahara-Morocco: Kohler prepares new round of direct negotiations before end of year

APS : Thursday, 09 August 2018
NEW YORK-United Nations Envoy for Western Sahara Horst Kohler is rushing to launch a fifth round of direct negotiations between the Polisario Front and Morocco before the end of the year,
close sources said Thursday.
The UN mediator on Wednesday informed the Security Council of his move to send invitations in the coming weeks to the Polisario Front and Morocco to resume direct negotiations, suspended since 2012.
Horst Kohler plans to hold this new round of negotiations before the end of the year, probably in late October or early November.
Despite pressure from Morocco to limit this briefing to a factual report and avoid recommendations on a return to the negotiating table, the former German president announced the next steps he intends to take for the resumption of the UN process.
Rabat proposed Monday the postponement of this briefing to prevent a proposal for an agenda to resume the political process from being drafted at this meeting.
At the end of the briefing, the Polisario Front reaffirmed in a statement issued Wednesday evening its willingness to cooperate with the Secretary General’s personal envoy for the resumption of negotiations, and expressed its support for the efforts made by the UN envoy for this purpose.
During his first briefing to the Security Council last March, Kohler clearly defined his mandate as the UN Secretary-General’s personal envoy to “find a way forward” on the basis of a solution guaranteeing the self-determination of the Sahrawi people.
The UN envoy explained his vision of the peace process and stated that he sought to reopen direct negotiations between the two parties to the conflict in 2018.
“We must comply with resolution 2351. We do not need a new terminology, but a willingness to act,” said Kohler, rejecting the conditions of Morocco which refuses to return to the negotiating table only if its autonomy plan is made the only option for the resolution of the conflict.

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