UNITED NATIONS, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The UN envoy dealing with Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, will travel to North Africa next week for consultations on the next phase of negotiations aimed at resolving the long-running conflict in the region, a UN spokesman announced here on Friday.
"The current conflict in Mali and the heightened risks of instability and insecurity in the Sahel and beyond make a solution to the Western Sahara conflict more urgent than ever," deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said at a daily news briefing.
"Within the framework of his mandate and successive resolutions of the (UN) Security Council, the purpose of Mr. Ross' trip is to prepare for the next phase in the negotiating process and a possible resumption of direct talks to achieve 'a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self- determination of the people of Western Sahara,'" del Buey said.
The United Nations has been involved in mediation efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the movement known as Frente Polisario, after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended.
Ross will hold discussions with the parties to the Western Sahara negotiations, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, and visit Western Sahara, said del Buey, adding that the UN envoy will also hold consultations with Algeria and Mauritania.