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Western Sahara: talks between the Polisario Front and the Moroccan government in New York

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Western Sahara: talks between the Polisario Front and the Moroccan government in New York

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The talks between the Polisario Front and the Moroccan government have been taking place behind closed doors in a building 40 kilometres from New York. Journalists were not allowed into the building. The pressure on these talks is high, considering the violence that has descended on the region in recent days.

Our correspondent Anna Bressanin spoke to the main participants after the latest session of negotiations, including the personal envoy of the EN secretary general, Christopher Ross.

And it seems the only outcome of the talks, is more talks.

UN Personal envoy of the Secretary general, Christopher Ross:

“The participants agreed to convene again in December as well as early next year to pursue through innovative approches, the negotiating process for which the United Nations Security Council resolutions have called. Shukran, Merci, Thank you”

Anna Bressanin, euronews:

“How have these talks gone? Are you optimistic?”

Ahmed Boujarib, UN Polisario Front negociator:

“Well, I won;t hide the fact that the cirumstances under which these talks have taken place have been far from easy, given the situation. What’s happened in Laayoune is a tragedy – there are dead and wounded. Even on the day of the negotiations – so for us it appears a deliberate decision to derail the talks, to cast doubt over their viability.

It was an element which coloured the atmosphere a bit. But there was the possibility to discuss in depth.”

Anna Bressanin, euronews:

“What do you think will be the next step in Geneva? What are you going to talk about?”

Ahmed Boujarib, UN Polisario Front negociator:

“In Geneva we will continue to talk about the visiting programme for families separated by the war. But now I think the international community, the United States, has realised, after the tragic events in Laayoune, the need to concentrate efforts to find a fair and definitive solution.

Morocco is a neighbour. We still want to take Morocco into consideration.

That’s why we’ve offered – if there’s independence – privileged relations..

Anna Bressanin, euronews:

“But you don’t want autonomy?”

Ahmed Boujarib, UN Polisario Front negociator:

“Autonomy is one choice, but it mustn;t be the only choice for the Sahrawi people. We still want a referendum where there are several options, as defined by the United Nations.”

The Western Sahara question has become more than a long running dispute between geographical neighbours – it has become an issue of security with the emergence of al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, which has carried out several attacks and kidnappings.

A group of Spanish aid workers were taken in 2007 in Mauritania, and earlier this year they kidnapped and murdered the Frenchman Michel Germaneau.

Our reporter raised the question with both sides.

Anna Bressanin, euronews:

“Do you think there’ll be international pressure for a faster solution now that there are concerns over a real international terrorism threat in the Sahrawi region?

Ahmed Boujarib, UN Polisario Front negociator:

“There is no terrorism in our land. It’s something Morocco wants to use to confuse everyone.

Terrorism is a global threat. We’ve said to Morocco that we are ready to cooperate with Morocco, and with all interested powers in the future, but Morocco has refused.”

Taieb Fassi Fihri, Moroccan foreign Affairs Minister:

“It’s not just the security threat. Of course it is there, and raises its head daily. The community are asking us for cooperation between the countries of the region.

But there’s also something highlighted by the international community: that is the persistent differences, and the fact that there’s no progress because of unfortunately a rigid stance by other parties, we haven’t taken advantage of all possible opportunities and offers in economic terms.

And so it’s not just a case of security, there are economic demands too.”

We also tackled the Moroccan foreign minister about the lack of foreign media covering the clashes in Western Sahara.

Anna Bressanin, euronews:

“Why are there no foreign journalists in Laayoune?”

Taieb Fassi Fihri, Moroccan foreign Affairs Minister:

“There are many journalists who went…. .”

Anna Bressanin, euronews:

“There are many who were stopped… “

Taieb Fassi Fihri, Moroccan foreign Affairs Minister:

“Unfortunately, coming to add fuel to the fire is not something we expect from a professional journalist. Journalists have a right, a fundamental right that we respect and encourage a lot in Morocco — to report and analyse. But you can’t have certain journalists putting their desires as reality, or distancing themselves from orthodoxy, and above all objectivity which is that of peace. Thank you. “