Sahara: Horst Köhler holds consultations with Mauritanian delegation

The Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Sahara, Horst Köhler, had on Thursday in Berlin consultations on the Sahara issue with a Mauritanian delegation, led by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Isselkou Ould Ahmed Izidbih.

While members of the Moroccan Government formally deny any direct negotiations with the Polisario, the separatists repeatedly voiced their willingness to sit with the Moroccan side at the negotiation table.

The head of the Mauritanian diplomacy was accompanied by Mohamed Lemine Ould Dadde, advisor to the presidency, and Jaroullah Inallah, director of international cooperation at the Foreign Ministry, the Mauritanian official news agency AMI reported. 

The UN mediator, who had already met a Polisario delegation in Berlin last week and the Mauritanian delegation Thursday, would probably hold consultations also with Algeria and Morocco.

If Rabat officially rejects any direct contact with the Polisario separatists, no details on the venue of a possible meeting with Horst Köhler were disclosed.

The Moroccan side deems that the handling of the Western Sahara conflict falls under the exclusive scope of the United Nations and did not appreciate the UN mediator’s attempt to involve the African Union in the settlement process of this territorial dispute.  

According to sources familiar with the matter, Morocco, which considers Algeria as a stakeholder in the Sahara conflict, requires the presence of Algerian officials alongside the Polisario in any negotiation.

In the meantime, Antonio Guterres’s personal envoy, Horst Köhler, traveled to Geneva where he met separately the former UN Secretary-General, Ghanaian Kofi Annan, and a senior representative of the UN human rights council, part of his consultations with other international players with knowledge of the Sahara issue.

Köhler is intensifying his consultations ahead of the presentation by Antonio Guterres of his new report on Western Sahara to the UN Security Council in April.

 

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