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Western Sahara: Politics and Government

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the status is of negotiations in Manhasset on the future of the Western Sahara; and if he will make a statement. (204952)

UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1753, of 30 April 2007, called upon the parties to enter into negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith. The UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum, has brought the parties together for four rounds of negotiations, held in June and August 2007 and January and March 2008. The UK folly supports these negotiations, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. We have encouraged the parties to maintain their commitment to the negotiation process. UNSCR 1813 called on parties to continue these negotiations in a spirit of realism and compromise, and we hope a fifth round will be held soon.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) France and (b) Spain on the future of the Western Sahara. (204953)

The UK is a member of the Group of Friends of Western Sahara in the UN Security Council, along with France, Spain, the US and Russia. Consequently, the UK works closely with these two key European neighbours on the issue of Western Sahara in the UN.

Last month saw the UN Security Council adopt Resolution 1813, which extended the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara and called on the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary General. The UK, along with the others in the Group of Friends, worked hard in order to secure consensus in the Council.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to meet representatives of the Polisario Front to discuss the status of Western Sahara; and if he will make a statement. (205099)

The Government maintain contact with representatives of the Polisario at official level, both in London and through our embassies overseas. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has met with consultants working on behalf of the Polisario, where he reiterated the UK’s support for the UN Secretary-General and his personal envoy to the Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, and for the negotiation process currently under way under the auspices of the UN.