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Horst Köhler Satisfied with His 1st Visit to Sahara

Rabat- The UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for the Sahara, Horst Köhler, has said he was satisfied with his first visit to the southern provinces of the Kingdom of Morocco, noting that the visit allowed him to “deepen his understanding of the case.”“I am satisfied with this visit during which I met many people and visited different places,” said Köhler in a statement Sunday to the state-owned press Maghreb Arab News (MAP), at his departure from Hassan I Airport in Laayoune at the end of his visit. He indicated that the various meetings he held were fruitful.Köhler also welcomed the progress and development in the region, particularly in the economic and social spheres. He said the final settlement of the Western Sahara question will lead to more investment in the region and the creation of job opportunities, especially for young people. The personal envoy also emphasized his willingness to work towards a mutually agreed solution.During his visit to the southern provinces of the Kingdom, Köhler held a series of meetings with elected officials, sheikhs, notables of Sahrawi tribes, and civil society actors. The meetings were held in Laayoune, Smara and Dakhla, where members reaffirmed their commitment to the autonomy initiative as the only solution for the settlement of the Moroccan Sahara issue.These talks were also an opportunity to stress the need to put pressure on Algeria to authorize a census of inhabitants at the Tindouf camps.Köhler also inquired about development efforts in different sectors in the region, as well as projects registered as part of the southern provinces development model.The personal envoy visited the regional human rights commissions’ headquarters in Laayoune and Dakhla. He also took note of the progress made in the region with regard to the promotion human rights in the wake of reforms Morocco initiated.Köhler’s visit to Morocco is part of his second regional tour which has already taken him to Algeria and Mauritania.This regional tour of Köhler comes after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2414 on April 27, 2018, by which it reaffirmed the pre-eminence of the Moroccan autonomy initiative.He advocated that realism and a spirit of compromise are essential to progress towards a political, realistic, pragmatic, and sustainable solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, by explicitly asking neighboring countries, and therefore Algeria, “to make an important contribution to the process and to engage more strongly to progress towards political solution.”

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