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Sahara : The US pays close attention to the Geneva «round table»

As four delegations from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario flew to Geneva to attend a «round table» on the Sahara territorial conflict, the US is paying close attention to the event. On Wednesday, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, called the Mauritanian Foreign Minister, who was one of the attendees. 

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US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale./Ph. DR

From his office at the US Department of State in Washington, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale is paying close attention to the «round table», held currently in Geneva. Indeed, Hale had a telephone conversation on Wednesday afternoon, December the 5th, with the Mauritanian Foreign Affairs Minister, Ismail Ould Cheikh, reports the Mauritania’s official news agency, AMI, in a press release.

Even though AMI announced that David Hale’s call «focused on the excellent diplomatic relations between Mauritania and the United States of America and the means to strengthen them», the territorial dispute was also at the heart of two officials' conversation.

Indeed, in his telephone call, Hale stressed that Washington supports the efforts made by the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy to Western Sahara and backs every initiative aiming to find a solution for the dispute, added the same source.

Is Mauritania playing the role of a mediator?

David Hale’s interest in the Geneva meeting makes sense, as it reflects the position of the Trump administration. Since Donald Trump appointed John Bolton as his National Security Advisor, the Sahara question has been spotlighted again.

This was confirmed through the debate that preceded the adoption of Resolution 2440 on extending the MINURSO’s mandate. While the other members of the Security Council voted for extending the mission’s mandate to one year, the United States managed to impose its opinion reducing the period to only six months.

Last week, David Hale visited Morocco and Algeria with the objective of bringing together the positions of the two main actors in the Sahara issue.

For several months, David Hale has been holding meetings with Moroccan and Algerian officials to convince them to resume negotiations. Hale also received Horst Köhler.

For the record, the Geneva «round table», held currently in Switzerland, is based on three working sessions attended by the parties invited by Horst Köhler. One of these sessions will focus on the «next steps of the political process in Western Sahara».

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