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France denies veto threat looms over Western Sahara negotiations

By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - France's U.N. envoy on Friday vehemently denied threatening to use its Security Council veto power to block any proposals to have U.N. peacekeepers in Western Sahara monitor the human rights situation in the disputed North African territory.

Moroccan king attends prayers in disputed Western Sahara

Morocco's King Mohamed VI attended weekly Friday prayers during a rare visit to Western Sahara, official media reported, ahead of a UN vote on the disputed territory. MAP news agency said the king attended the prayers alongside the visiting interior minister of the Ivory Coast, Hamed Bakayoko. Mohamed's visit to the city of Dakhla comes ahead of an April 23 UN Security Council vote to renew the mandate of peacekeepers in Western Sahara, which was annexed by Morocco in the 1970s.

No U.N. rights monitoring in U.S. draft on Western Sahara mission

By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday prepared a draft resolution that would renew the U.N. mission in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, but it did not ask for sustained U.N. human rights monitoring as demanded by rights advocates, diplomats said. Last week U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon renewed his appeals for sustained human rights monitoring in the North African Western Sahara region and warned against unfair exploitation of the region's natural resources.

UN must task W.Sahara peacekeepers with rights monitoring

Human Rights Watch on Monday urged the Security Council to task UN peacekeepers in Western Sahara with rights monitoring, accusing Morocco of suppressing dissent in the territory it controls. The call, in a letter addressed to the Security Council, comes ahead of the annual vote next week on renewing the mandate of the peacekeeping mission, known as MINURSO. It is a move fiercely opposed by Morocco, which annexed the former Spanish colony in the late 1970s in a move never recognised internationally.

UN chief urges independent rights monitoring in W.Sahara

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for "sustained, independent and impartial" monitoring of human rights in Western Sahara, while welcoming Moroccan efforts to improve the situation in disputed territory under its control. His call, in a report to the Security Council released late Thursday, is likely to stoke renewed debate about widening the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in the territory when it comes up for renewal later this month.

U.N. renews call for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara

By Louis Charbonneau VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday renewed his appeals for sustained human rights monitoring in the disputed territory of northern Africa's Western Sahara and warned against unfair exploitation of the region's natural resources. The comments were included in Ban's latest report on Western Sahara to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council, an advance copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

U.N. renews call for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara

By Louis Charbonneau VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday renewed his appeals for sustained human rights monitoring in the disputed territory of northern Africa's Western Sahara and warned against unfair exploitation of the region's natural resources. The comments were included in Ban's latest report on Western Sahara to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council, an advance copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Morocco seeks to pre-empt UN rights debate on W.Sahara

Morocco is seeking to forestall UN Security Council debate on its rights record in Western Sahara when the mandate of the territory's peacekeepers is renewed, with several reform announcements. Last year, Washington sought to task the peacekeeping force, known as MINURSO, with human rights monitoring in Western Sahara, an unexpected move fiercely opposed by Morocco, which controls most of the disputed territory and is highly sensitive to criticism of its policies there.

Morocco raises stakes in diplomatic spat with ally France

By Aziz El Yaakoubi and John Irish RABAT/PARIS (Reuters) - Morocco has halted judicial cooperation with France, blocking procedures from prisoner transfers to joint investigations, officials said on Thursday, in a growing dispute with its former colonial ruler over allegations of human rights abuses. French President Francois Hollande spoke to the Moroccan king this week to try to defuse the rare row with Rabat, an ally under fire from rights groups over police abuses, press freedom and judicial independence.

UN Western Sahara envoy in Morocco on latest peace push

The UN's Western Sahara envoy met Morocco's foreign minister Monday, official media reported, during a new tour of the region to push for a peaceful resolution to the frozen conflict. Christopher Ross was received by Salaheddine Mezouar and his deputy Mbarka Bouaida, Morocco's MAP new agency said, without giving further details of the meeting.
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