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Sunday, 27 November 2022
UN chief discusses Western Sahara with Moroccan king

UN chief discusses Western Sahara with Moroccan king

International Desk

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a rare meeting with Morocco's King Mohammed VI on Wednesday, where the pair discussed the disputed Western Sahara region.

The low-intensity conflict in Western Sahara has pitted Morocco against the Sahrawi independence fighters of the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, for more than 40 years.

Morocco de facto controls 80 percent of the vast desert region, rich in phosphates and with a long Atlantic coast abutting rich fishing waters.

King Mohammed on Wednesday reaffirmed Morocco's position that the regional dispute should be settled "within the framework of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the kingdom", according to a royal statement.

The UN confirmed that Guterres and the monarch had discussed "the situation in the region and, in particular, in Western Sahara" on the sidelines of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations held in the Moroccan city of Fez.

The kingdom sees the Western Sahara as its own "southern provinces", a region it controlled before colonial Spain seized it.

The Polisario Front is calling for a referendum on self-determination, which had been planned when a ceasefire was signed in 1991 but never implemented.

That ceasefire was shattered in November 2020.

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