Centro de Informação (UNIC), Lisboa
(Lisbon, Portugal, 29 August 1997)
Forte San Julião da Barra, 29 August 1997. - The fifth meeting of the private direct talks on Western Sahara ended one day before scheduled, due to the progress achieved during this session.
The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Mr. James Baker III, said that it was "a full and productive day of discussions".
Mr. Baker told the press that the parties had reached a compromise agreement with respect to the questions of containment of troops, prisoners of war and political detainees.
He added that the progress achieved was such that they were unable to go line by line through the proposed code of conduct to the referendum, because the delegations did not have all the experts in this field they needed to discuss the code of conduct in detail. Answering a journalist, the Personal Envoy refrained from giving any details about the differences between the parties and reaffirmed that "... since these talks began I think that it is important that they be private talks and direct talks which are kept private." Mr. Baker emphasized that the more he talks about the differences between the parties, the more people will "read into that some ideal winners and losers and that will make our future job prospects just that much more difficult."
Recalling that the mandate of MINURSO expires on 30 September, the Personal Envoy told the reporters that they are consciously planning to meet earlier, in order to be able to make a positive report to the Security Council.
According to Mr. James Baker III, the next round of private, directs talks on Western Sahara will start between 12 and 14 September in the United States. Th exact location will not be known at least until 2 or 3 September.
The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General has reminded journalists that the United Nations have held successfull elections in various parts of the world and that the conde of conduct for Western Sahara will not be too dissimilar from the codes of conduct used in countries such as Cambodja and Namibia.
The private direct talks on the question of Western Sahara were also attended by Mr. Erik Jensen, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, as well as by representatives of Algeria and Mauritania, as observer countries.