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Press Statement PESG Ross 28 November 2012, New York As requested by Security Council Resolution 2044 of April 2012,

I have just briefed the Council on the latest developments in the search for a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution of the Western Sahara conflict, which will provide for the selfdetermination of the people of Western Sahara. I shared with the Council the findings and recommendations that emerged from my visit to North Africa from October 25 to November 11. I visited Morocco and the Polisario leadership, as well as Algeria and Mauritania, and met with political leaders and representatives of civil society, as well as senior government authorities, at each stop. Everywhere, my welcome was warm and without reservation. In addition, I visited Western Sahara for the first time and met with a broad range of Sahrawis there and elsewhere. The state of bilateral relations between Morocco and Algeria and next steps in building the Arab Maghreb Union were also examined. In addition, on my way home, I held consultations in Madrid and Paris. The governments of Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Spain, and France, as well as the Polisario Front and MINURSO, extended full cooperation, and I thank them. The situation remains very worrisome and should remain on the radar of the international community. As I stated in Madrid, the conflict over the final status of Western Sahara has gone on for far too long. While some may believe that the status quo is stable and that it is risky to take chances for peace, I believe that this is a serious miscalculation particularly now that the region is threatened by extremist, terrorist, and criminal elements operating in the Sahel. In these new circumstances, this conflict could, if left to fester, feed growing frustration and spark renewed violence or hostilities that would be tragic for the peoples of the region. It must be resolved and I believe that it can be resolved if there is a will to engage in real dialogue and compromise. With regard to next steps, my sense is that convening another round of informal talks immediately would not advance the search for a solution. We have had nine such rounds since August 2009 without results on the core issue of the future status of Western Sahara. Rather than going directly back into another round, therefore, I intend to focus first on additional consultations with key international stakeholders and then to engage in a period of shuttle diplomacy with the parties and neighboring states in the context of one or more visits to the region, including Western Sahara. It is my hope that these activities will lay the groundwork for effective resumption of face-to-face meetings of the parties. The parties and neighbouring States, as well as the Members of the Security Council, have welcomed this approach and stated their readiness to continue to work with me in the coming months. I must stress that the principal responsibility for making progress rests with the parties themselves. That said, the UN will spare no effort to assist them. I ask the members of the Council and of the wider international community to join in encouraging them to enter into serious negotiations to arrive at an honorable solution that ends the humanitarian tragedy that long-separated families have been enduring.

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