No progress in solving Western Sahara dispute

Morocco and the Polisario Front have agreed to at least one informal meeting ahead of another round of talks on the future of disputed Western Sahara, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report Tuesday to the UN Security Council. Morocco, which has offered wide-ranging autonomy to the mineral-rich Western Sahara, and the Polisario Front, which is seeking independence for the region, have held four rounds of talks under UN auspices since June 2007 without any breakthrough. Ban said that consultations by his new envoy, Christopher Ross, who visited north Africa in February, indicated there had been little change since the last round of negotiations. Therefore, he said, careful preparation is needed ahead of a possible fifth round. "In this light, my personal envoy has suggested to the parties that one or more small, informal preparatory meetings be held," Ban said. "The parties have indicated their agreement with this approach."