By Khaled Majdoub
RABAT (AA) - Morocco is not ruling out talks with the Polisario Front over the disputed Sahara region as long as negotiations are based on earlier proposals for semi-autonomy, Abdelmajid Ghazzal, a member of Morocco’s Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
While Rabat still insists on its right to the Western Sahara region, in recent years it has proposed a self-rule system under Moroccan sovereignty.
Ghazzal’s remarks come after Polisario FM Mohammad Salem Ould Salek -- at a Monday press conference convened in Algeria -- said the Front was ready to hold direct talks with Morocco.
According to Ould Salek, a Front delegation met in Berlin last month with UN Special Envoy Horst Koehler, with whom delegation members discussed proposals for resuming stalled talks over Western Sahara.
Ghazzal, for his part, ruled out the notion of holding direct negotiations in the short term, calling instead for a first round of indirect talks with the aim of “exploring ideas”.
Occupied by Spain until 1975, Western Sahara -- a large territory in southern Morocco -- has remained the subject of dispute between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front for more than four decades.
After years of conflict, the two parties signed a UN-backed cease-fire in 1991.
The Polisario, meanwhile, has long called for a popular referendum in Western Sahara to decide the region’s political fate.