Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited Morocco and the Frente Polisario to talks, along with their neighbours Algeria and Mauritania, later this month in an attempt to resolve the long-standing dispute over the status of Western Sahara.
The talks involving representatives of the two parties and the neighbours will take place "in the proximity of New York" on 18 June, Mr. Ban's spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today.
Peter van Walsum, the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, will conduct direct talks as a first step in the process of negotiations, Ms. Okabe added, noting that Mr. Ban hopes the talks will lead to a mutually agreed political solution to the dispute.
The invitations to the 18 June talks follow a request from the Security Council in its latest resolution on Western Sahara, issued in late April, that Morocco and the Polisario Front enter into negotiations without preconditions.
The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in operation since 1991 monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front and organize the planned referendum on self-determination.