Morocco has reiterated to the United Nations that it is ready to intensify talks to resolve the dispute over the Western Sahara on the basis of autonomy.
"Such an audacious and realistic initiative takes into consideration, within the framework of our national integrity and territorial sovereignty, the norms of international law and goes beyond restrictive interpretations that can only nurture the stalemate situation," Moroccan Foreign Minister Taïb Fassi Fihri told the General Assembly yesterday.
"Morocco reiterates its full readiness to pursue and intensify the negotiation process to find a consensual political solution to the artificial regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, on the basis of the autonomy initiative that the Security Council has considered, through six successive resolutions, as serious and credible," he said.
"It is time for each party to live up to its responsibilities, particularly in light of the events occurring in the region, to work seriously and in good faith in order to reach a final political compromise to this artificial regional dispute, to meet the aspirations of our brothers in the Tindouf (Algeria) camps, where they are deprived from the most basic human rights."
Fighting between Morocco and the Frente Polisario broke out in Western Sahara after the Spanish colonial administration ended in 1976.
In 2004 the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) launched a strictly humanitarian and non-political programme of family visits in support of refugees living in camps near Tindouf and their families in the territory of Western Sahara.
In a bilateral meeting with Mr. Fihri, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged Morocco to pursue efforts in Western Sahara negotiations to achieve concrete progress and expressed his support for the implementation of confidence-building measures between the parties.
In his speech the minister also said Morocco had worked relentlessly to activate bilateral relations with Algeria through ministerial visits and hoped this would lead to a comprehensive normalization between the two countries, including the opening of terrestrial borders.
Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci told the Assembly his country reaffirmed its full support to Mr. Ban's efforts over the Western Sahara dispute.
"In effect, everything must be done to advance the path of dialogue and negotiation in order to allow the Sahraoui people to freely express their right to self-determination," he said. "I call on the two parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, to show a spirit of responsibility to resolve this conflict which, alas, has lasted all too long."
In a bilateral meeting Mr. Ban thanked the minister for Algeria's engagement in the negotiating process.