Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

12 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress which has been made in relation to the progress on resolution 1359 regarding the Western Sahara, in view of the expiring of the mandate for MINURSO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3742/02]

Under the mandate given by UN Security Council Resolution 1359, the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General, Mr. James Baker, is pursuing two tracks. One of them is the UN settlement plan, which provides for the holding of a referendum to determine the future status of Western Sahara. This plan has been stalemated for a number of years. The other track is the framework agreement, which provides for a measure of autonomy now, followed by a referendum in five years time.

From the Secretary General's interim report to the Security Council of 10 January, it would appear that little progress has been made on the framework agreement proposals put forward by Mr. Baker in June. These have been rejected as a basis for negotiations by the POLISARIO and by the Government of Algeria.

Mr. Baker is to report to the Secretary General later this month on the outcome of his current efforts to find agreement among the parties on possible additional proposals which could be a basis for negotiations and break the impasse on the implementation of the UN settlement plan.
Ireland is a long-standing supporter of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. The Government continues to consider the UN settlement plan as a reasonable basis for a just political solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. We believe that political negotiations on possible alternative proposals for political solution must have the consent of all parties to the conflict.
I was pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss the issue with Foreign Minister Benaissa of Morocco when he visited Dublin last week. Ireland, as a member of the UN Security Council, welcomes the efforts of Mr. Baker to find a means of reaching an agreed solution and we have encouraged all the parties to work with him over the short period remaining to the renewal of the MINURSO mandate by the Security Council at the end of this month.