UN mediator for the Sahara says he is “encouraged” by the beginnings of his mission

The UN Secretary-General’s new envoy for the Sahara, Horst Köhler, who succeeded US diplomat Christopher Ross, seemed upbeat Wednesday in New York based on the results of his first mission to North Africa.

Following his first briefing to the Security Council about his consultations with the parties concerned by the Sahara issue, during his mid-October tour in the region, Köhler said he was “encouraged” by exchanges with members of the Security Council.

However, no details emerged in the UN corridors on the content of Köhler’s briefing on his mission in the region. The mission was conducted in the wake of the decision of the UNSG Antonio Guterres to instill into the negotiations on the Sahara, “a new dynamic and a new spirit”.

The new dynamic wanted by Guterres for the final political settlement of the Moroccan Sahara issue seems to be supported and appreciated by most stakeholders in this territorial dispute.

The Security Council members welcomed the recent visit to the region by the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, deeming the tour is likely to give a “new momentum” to push the political settlement process forward, said the President of the Council for the month of November, Italian Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi.

This is also the case of the King of Morocco Mohammed VI. In his latest speech on November 6, he said that Morocco remained committed to engaging in the current dynamic wished by Antonio Guterres, and to cooperate with his Personal Envoy, Horst Köhler, as long as the firmly established principles and terms of reference on which the Moroccan position is based are respected.

However, the Moroccan sovereign made it clear that “no settlement of the Sahara affair is possible outside the framework of Morocco’s full sovereignty over its Sahara, and outside the framework of the Autonomy Initiative, which has been declared serious and credible by the international community”.
Moroccans hope that this message was grasped by the new UN mediator in the conflict artificially created by the Algerian and Libyan regimes. The German diplomat Köhler is urged to avoid the diplomatic blunders committed by his American predecessor, Christopher Ross, and his boss, South Korean Ban Ki-Moon.

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