Western Sahara talks to be held in March: UN

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A UN envoy is moving ahead with plans to hold a second round of talks this month on settling the decades-old conflict in Western Sahara, the UN spokesman said Tuesday.

Horst Koehler, a former German president who has been leading the UN peace effort between Morocco and the Polisario Front, held a first round in December in Geneva that did not yield any breakthroughs.

The envoy “plans to convene a second roundtable of meetings in the second half of March in Switzerland,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Koehler has been holding bilateral meetings to prepare for the talks between Morocco, the Algerian-backed Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania.

The Polisario fought a war with Morocco from 1975 to 1991, when a ceasefire deal was agreed and a UN peace mission was deployed to monitor the truce.

The Polisario is demanding a referendum on independence for the territory, which Morocco has flatly rejected.

Morocco, which annexed the territory after Spain withdrew in 1975, considers Western Sahara to be an integral part of the kingdom and has instead offered autonomy.