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Morocco FM Calls Western Sahara Talks "Humanitarian," Cites Ban, Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 14 -- When Morocco's Minister of Foreign Affairs Saad-Eddine El Othmani emerged Wednesday from meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Inner City Press asked him about the negotiations on Western Sahara that took place March 11-13 at the Greentree Estate in Manhasset, New York. Video here.

  Saad-Eddine El Othmani replied, in French, that the negotiations are "concentrated on humanitarian issues;" he said that on the "political" front there is little progress, and blamed "the other parties."

  He said that the UN in the past two or three years -- that is, under Ban Ki-moon -- has supported Morocco's "autonomy" plan. This is to be contrasted with the referendum on independence that was the purpose of the UN mission in Western Sahara.

  In the Security Council during the March 12 debate on the Arab Spring, South Africa's Permanent Representative Baso Sangqu brought up Western Sahara, saying that the Arab Spring had passed it by. Inner City Press asked Saad-Eddine El Othmani to respond. Perhaps it was lost in translation: his response was that Morocco has had its own Arab Spring, stability, human rights.

  Then in English Saad-Eddine El Othmani was asked about Syria. He said that Syrians "need democracy... and human rights."

  Morocco's Permanent Representative Loulichki is representing the Arab League's position in the Security Council; it seems that Syria allowed in Kofi Annan as a UN envoy, while the Arab League selected deputy Nasser Al Kidwa did not go. More on this soon.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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