The independence movement fighting for Western Sahara to be free from Moroccan sovereignty, the Polisario Front, has expressed its readiness to take part in direct negotiations with Morocco on the future of the disputed territory.
Foreign Minister of the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Mohammad Salem Ould Salek, confirmed that a Polisario delegation met in Germany with the UN envoy on Western Sahara, Horst Koehler, on 25 January.
Speaking in a press conference in Algiers, Ould Salek praised the "new phase of discussions aimed at preparing for a new phase of direct negotiation," and confirmed that the Polisario is "ready for direct negotiations with the Kingdom of Morocco to make peace."
Morocco has previously confirmed that it would meet with Koehler but has failed to give a date for when the meeting would take place. Koehler is a former German president who was appointed in August to the role of special envoy to push for negotiations which have stalled since 2012.
The Polisario and Morocco fought for control of Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991 until an UN-brokered ceasefire. Morocco considers the former Spanish colony an integral part of its sovereignty and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory. However the Polisario Front insists on holding a UN referendum on independence from Morocco.