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'Morocco does not expect talks with Polisario to bear fruit'

The head of Moroccan Federation of Newspaper Publishers (FMEJ) and General Director of Al-Ayam newspaper, Noureddine Miftah, has doubted the prospect of the UN-sponsored round-table talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front in the presence of delegations from Algeria and Mauritania.

In an interview with Arabi21, Miftah said that "the round-table talks called upon by UN envoy Horst Kohler do not amount to the level of direct negotiations between Rabat and the Polisario Front. These talks are rather a session to rebuild trust between the involved parties and refocus different perspectives toward essential steps to solve the Western Sahara conflict, which is mainly in the hands of Morocco and Algeria."

Miftah also expressed a sense of cynicism regarding the outcomes of the round-table talks scheduled for Wednesday in Geneva. He stated: "I am not optimistic about the results of the UN-sponsored round-table talks, because Algeria had already made a negative gesture when King Mohammed VI called for reconciliation and for turning the page of disputes, which is the main gateway to end the problem of Western Sahara. However, Algeria, unfortunately, preferred to respond to employing a no turning back policy."

He added: "The Moroccan position was based on an unwillingness to re-engage in a futile dialogue with the Polisario Front because Algeria is the true decision maker regarding the issue. Rabat will only discuss the matter with the concerned party, which is Algeria; this is why the Geneva roundtable was considered as a platform for a Moroccan-Algerian dialogue."

Miftah pointed out that "the problem with Algeria is that its political leadership is going through a health crisis and that a reconciliation decision between the two countries needs a leadership that can take the initiative to uproot years of hatred between the Moroccan and the Algerian peoples."

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Sticking to the proposal of autonomous rule

Before the Geneva talks on Western Sahara issue, initiated by UN envoy Horst Koehler, Morocco reiterated its commitment to the autonomous rule proposal, as a horizon for the forthcoming talks with representatives from Algeria, Mauritania, and the Polisario Front.

On Tuesday, Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm quoted the Secretary of State for Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Monia Bousetta, who said: "The roundtable on the subject of the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, to be held in Geneva starting from Wednesday, is considered as an occasion to appropriate measures of building trust between conflicting parties." Thus, Bousetta stressed that Morocco's autonomous rule proposal remains the only realistic solution for the conflict."

The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a communiqué, issued yesterday, that the Moroccan delegation, participating in the Geneva talks, will include representatives of the inhabitants of the southern provinces, who are respectively Hamdi Ould Errachid, President of Laayoune-Sakia El-Hamra, Ynja Khattat, President of Dakhla-Oued Eddahab, and Fatima Al-Adly, civil society activist, and member of the Municipal Council of Smara.

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