GENEVAA , March 23, (Rahnuma): A second round of talks on the disputed Western Sahara region ended Friday with the sides agreeing to meet again, but with the UN acknowledging many positions remained far apart.Morocco and the Polisario Front liberation movement appeared to have come no closer on the thorn
y issue of an independence referendum to decide Western Sahara’s fate.
The Polisario has demanded a vote — a proposal categorically rejected by Rabat.
“This is not and will not be easy,” United Nations envoy and former German President Horst Kohler told reporters in Geneva. “There is still a lot of work ahead,” he said.
“Nobody should expect a quick outcome, because many positions are still fundamentally diverging.”
Foreign ministers from Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania along with the Polisario’s chief negotiator spent the past two days meeting in a secret location “near Geneva.”
Kohler read a joint communique hailing the delegations for engaging in “courteously and openly in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”
The talks focused on finding “a mutually acceptable political solution … that is realistic, practicable, enduring, based on compromise, just, lasting, (and) which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” the communique said.
The parties had agreed to “continue the discussion,” it added.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita told journalists the sides agreed to meet before the summer.
The international community has long advocated that a referendum be held to decide the status of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony on the western edge of the vast eponymous desert, stretching around 1,000 km along the Atlantic coastline