New York, 14 March 2016
The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Salaheddine Mezouar, the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Morocco, to exchange views on the state of efforts to settle the Western Sahara dispute, as well as his recent visit to the region to explore ways to intensify the negotiating process.
The Secretary-General took note of the misunderstanding related to his use of the word “occupation” as his personal reaction to the deplorable humanitarian conditions in which the Sahrawi refugees have lived in for far too long.
The Secretary-General also conveyed his astonishment at the recent statement of the Government of Morocco and expressed his deep disappointment and anger regarding the demonstration that was mobilized on Sunday, which targeted him in person. He stressed that such attacks are disrespectful to him and to the United Nations.
He also requested a clarification regarding the reported presence of several members of the Moroccan Government among the demonstrators. The Secretary-General asked the Foreign Minister to ensure that the United Nations enjoys respect in Morocco.
In choosing to misrepresent the purpose and progression of the Secretary-General’s trip to the region, the demonstrators, and their sponsors, deliberately chose to ignore that at every stop on his trip he underlined his personal commitment to encouraging genuine negotiations between the parties to achieve “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”, as the Security Council has repeatedly requested.
The Secretary-General underscored to the Foreign Minister that he has adhered closely to the Security Council’s mandate.
The Secretary-General reiterated his 4 November 2015 call for genuine and serious negotiations without preconditions to make progress soonest.