UN schedules new talks on future of Western Sahara


A new round of talks on the Western Sahara will aim to break an impasse over the future of the disputed North African territory, the UN says.

The meeting of Western Sahara's independent movement Polisario Front and Moroccan officials has been scheduled for next week in New York.

The talks follow a recent visit of UN envoy Christopher Ross to the region.

Western Sahara has been under Moroccan control since 1976.

The UN hopes the talks on 8 and 9 November "will be productive and will allow the parties to move beyond the impasse" on the future of the territory, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Tuesday.

Mr Nesirky described the Western Sahara peace process as a UN "priority".

Mr Ross, the UN's special envoy to the Western Sahara, visited the region in an attempt to break the deadlock between the Moroccan government and Polisario.

Morocco annexed the phosphate-rich territory after Spanish settlers left in 1975 and offers to grant it autonomy, while Polisario seeks independence and is demanding a referendum.

Polisario fought a guerrilla war against Morocco until the UN brokered a ceasefire in 1991.

The talks between both sites have been deadlocked for years, and the last meeting in February ended without any movement in the dispute.

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