Morocco Reaffirms Position on Sahara Issue to UN Envoy in Lisbon

Morocco reiterated to UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy, Horst Kohler, its unwavering position regarding its territorial integrity and sovereignty over the Sahara and the pertinence of the autonomy proposal as a lasting solution to the artificial dispute.

Morocco’s stand was reaffirmed at a bilateral meeting held in Lisbon Tuesday between Horst Kohler and a Moroccan delegation led by Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

Speaking to the press, Bourita described the talks as “ rich” and “fruitful”.

“Overall, the talks took place in an atmosphere of serenity and discussions were rich and fruitful in an atmosphere of mutual respect” Bourita told reporters.

He said the meeting cannot be described as “negotiations” but rather an event to discuss the latest development on the Sahara issue.

Bourita added that the talks were an opportunity to recall the genesis of the Sahara dispute as well as the geopolitical factors that caused the artificial dispute over Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara.

The bilateral talks with the UN official also tackled the Maghreb integration deadlock and the cost of the lack of a regional union in the Maghreb, he said.

Morocco made it clear that no solution for the Sahara conflict can be found outside the Kingdom’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity in line with Royal instructions and vision, said Bourita, adding that talks should include real stakeholders in this dispute, in an allusion to Algeria.

Bourita also stressed that the UN processes in the Sahara should continue without any intervention of other regional or international organizations while avoiding the marginal issues that threaten to derail the whole process from its political character.

The Moroccan delegation attending the talks also included Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN Omar Hilale, President of the Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra region, Sidi Hamdi Ould Errachid, and President of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region Ynja Khattat.

Köhler, who invited the parties to the Sahara conflict to separate talks, held meetings in Berlin with delegations from Algeria and Mauritania, and with delegates of the Polisario.

The United Nations opened negotiations between Morocco and the stakeholders to the Sahara issue in 2007, after Morocco presented an autonomy plan for the Sahara that the UN Security Council deemed as “serious and credible”. Several negotiation rounds were held since then, with the latest taking place outside of New York in 2012, but no progress was made.

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