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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 01:26 GMT 02:26 UK
W Sahara talks yield no agreement
By Richard Hamilton
BBC News, Rabat

Sahrawi women (Image: Steve Franck)
The arid region is rich in phosphates and maybe oil
Talks over the disputed African region of Western Sahara have come to an end without any apparent breakthrough.

The UN brokered the talks in New York over the last two days between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

Morocco, which annexed Western Sahara in 1975 citing centuries-old land rights, claims sovereignty over the whole region.

The Polisario Front, which is backed by Algeria, has said it will consider nothing less than full independence.

This is the fundamental stumbling block to the problem that has defied diplomats for decades and continues to do so.

Pressure

It was always going to be unlikely that just two days of negotiations would produce a breakthrough to a crisis that has lasted more than 30 years.

Very little information has come out of the meeting in New York, which has been held behind closed doors, but the United Nations is expected to announce a resumption of further talks soon.

It is considered something of a breakthrough that the two sides even sat down at the same table after so much hostility in the past.

There is international pressure on both of them to resolve the problem, which is hindering cooperation in north Africa in terms of trade and other issues such as combating terrorism.

For this reason in particular the United States for one is keen to see an end to the stalemate.


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Africa's forgotten war
01 May 07 |  In Pictures
Polisario rejects autonomy plan
07 Nov 05 |  Africa
'Africa's last colony'
21 Oct 03 |  Africa
Regions and territories: Western Sahara
18 Aug 05 |  Country profiles

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