UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The special U.N. envoy for Western Sahara says that talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement are going nowhere and he plans to move on to shuttle diplomacy to try to break the impasse.
Former U.S. diplomat Christopher Ross said Wednesday that nine rounds of talks since August 2009 have failed.
Morocco occupied and annexed the mineral-rich Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in November 1975 after Spain withdrew. The Polisario Front declared independence on behalf of the nomadic Saharawi people, and battled the Moroccan army until a U.N.-brokered 1991 truce. The dispute is one of the world's longest unresolved conflicts.
The U.N. decreed that a referendum should be held on independence, but Morocco instead advanced a plan granting wide-ranging autonomy.