In a press release issued at the end of the two-day third round of negotiations that have ended a few hours ago in the Greentree Estate, New York, Mr. Van Walsum expressed his intention to "visit the region shortly for in-depth consultations," noting that the parties have welcomed the decision.
He underlined that the third round of talks focused on the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions 1754 and 1783, through which the international organization had called upon the parties to enter into direct negotiations "without preconditions" and "in good faith."
The official also noted that the two parties "continued to express strong differences" on the fundamental questions at stake, while reaffirming “commitment to show political will and negotiate in good faith.”
They have also agreed on “the need to move the process into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations,” he said.
The UN facilitator indicated that the parties discussed but did not agree on the confidence-building measures, and that they have had preliminary discussion on thematic subjects such as administration, competences and organs.
The dispute over the Sahara – Morocco’s Southern Provinces – broke out in the mid Seventies as a result of claims by the Polisario to this former Spanish colony, which was ceded to Morocco in 1975 under the Madrid Accord, signed with Madrid and Nouakchott.
In a bid to solve this 32-year-old conflict, Morocco submitted last year a proposal to grant the territory substantial autonomy under its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The initiative, known as the autonomy plan, was internationally welcomed as “serious” and “credible” and was, in fact, behind the UN resolutions calling for direct negotiations between the parties.