§ Lord Morris of Castle Morris
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether there has been any progress on resolving the dispute over the Western Sahara. [HL2580]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)
With the support of the UN Security Council, James Baker, the UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy on the Western Sahara, recently visited several north African countries to assess the prospects for resolving the long-standing dispute over the Western Sahara.
Following these visits, Mr Baker invited the two main parties, Morocco and the Polisario Front, and the two front-line states, Algeria and Mauritania, to meet in order to consider the options for moving discussions forward. The UN asked the British Government whether we could provide a venue for 14 May. We agreed, and the UN accepted our offer of Lancaster House.
We welcome the willingness of the two parties to engage. We hope they will respect the spirit and aims of Mr Baker's mission and work with him to secure an early, durable and agreed resolution of this dispute.
The 14 May talks were private and conducted throughout by Mr Baker and his United Nations team. The UK's role was limited in this instance to logistical support. But I hope it sends a clear signal of our continuing willingness to support UN efforts to resolve conflicts on the African continent.