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Security Council extends UN Western Sahara mission for six months until April

Calling on all parties in the Western Sahara and neighbouring states to cooperate fully with the United Nations mission in bringing peace to the disputed territory, the Security-Council today voted to extend the UN mission for another six months until April next year.“The Security Council… [reaffirms] its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” the 15-member body stated in a unanimously adopted resolution.“[It reiterates] its call upon the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution… [and] decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2007.”Mr. Annan’s latest report on the region, released earlier this month, recommended the six-month extension for the mission as well as calling for Morocco and the Frente Polisario to drop any preconditions and begin negotiations to try to find a lasting solution to their long-standing conflict in the Western Sahara.His report also said that the neighbouring countries of Algeria and Mauritania should be invited to participate in any peace talks.The two military sides in the dispute do not have direct contact with each other, 15 years after a UN-sponsored ceasefire went into effect. Mr. Annan reported that “this continues to have a negative effect on mutual confidence and prevents the adoption of procedures that could help to stabilize the situation during critical periods.”MINURSO was established in 1991 to monitor the ceasefire and organize a referendum on self-determination in the former Spanish colony which Morocco has claimed as its own and where the Frente Polisario has been fighting for independence.

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