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U.N. council extends contentious Western Sahara peacekeeping mission

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council renewed a peacekeeping mission in disputed Western Sahara on Thursday after the United States backed down in an annual battle with Morocco, backed by France, over whether peacekeepers should monitor human rights abuses. In an apparent compromise, the unanimously approved U.S.-drafted resolution encourages "the parties to continue in their respective efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Western Sahara and the ... refugee camps."

Human rights battle mars UN effort in W. Sahara

The UN Security Council on Thursday called on Morocco to improve its respect for human rights in disputed Western Sahara, but backed off calls for the UN to stage rights investigations. Morocco staged a major diplomatic offensive after the United States proposed a resolution that called for investigations by the UN peacekeeping force in Western Sahara, now Africa's longest-running conflict.

UN council set to adopt W. Sahara resolution

The UN Security Council is poised to adopt a resolution Thursday that prolongs a peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara but doesn't task it with rights monitoring as sought by Washington, diplomats said. Morocco started occupying former Spanish colony Western Sahara in 1975 in a move that was not accepted by the international community. UN efforts to seek a peace deal between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which wants an independent state, are deadlocked.

Scaled down US-Morocco war games resume

Annual US-Morocco war games, cancelled by Rabat over a Washington-backed plan for the UN's Western Sahara mission, have resumed on a smaller scale after a compromise was reached, the US embassy said Wednesday. "The Moroccan government did ask us (in the past 48 hours) if we could resume African Lion," embassy spokesman Rodney Ford told AFP. "Most of our forces had already redeployed. But some elements are still on the ground. So we are conducting modified limited military engagements," he said.

Morocco forces change to UN text on W. Sahara

The United States has withdrawn a demand that the United Nations start human rights investigations in disputed Western Sahara following furious lobbying by Morocco, diplomats said Tuesday. Morocco, which has occupied Western Sahara since the 1970s, had condemned a US move to put the demand in a UN Security Council resolution on the UN peacekeeping mission in the North African territory to be voted on Thursday. It called off military exercises with the United States to show its anger.

US weakens W. Sahara human rights demand at UN

The United States has withdrawn a demand that the United Nations start human rights investigations in disputed Western Sahara following furious lobbying by Morocco, diplomats said Tuesday. Morocco, which has occupied the Western Sahara since the 1970s, had condemned the US move to put the demand in a UN Security Council resolution on the UN peacekeeping mission in the North African territory to be voted on Thursday. It called off military exercises with the United States to show its anger.

Compromise seen on Western Sahara allowing U.N. mission extension

By John Irish and Michelle Nichols PARIS (Reuters) - The United States has dropped demands for human rights observers in Western Sahara, diplomats said on Tuesday, paving the way for a compromise that would allow the U.N. mission in the disputed territory to be extended for another year. Western Sahara, a tract of desert the size of Britain that has lucrative phosphate reserves and potentially offshore oil, is the focus of Africa's longest-running territorial dispute, between Morocco and pro-independence Polisario guerrillas.

U.N. failure boosts Western Sahara conflict risk - Polisario

By John Irish PARIS (Reuters) - Failure by the United Nations to let peacekeepers monitor human rights in the disputed Western Sahara risks pushing the region toward armed conflict, a senior official from the Polisario Front independence movement said on Monday. The dispute over Western Sahara dates back to 1975 and pits Morocco, which claims the region is part of its territory, against the Algeria-backed Polisario.

Morocco border issue could be resolved soon

The Algeria-Morocco border, closed for two decades amid deadlock over the Western Sahara, is a pressing issue that could be resolved soon, Algerian Foreign Minister Dahou Ould Kablia said on Sunday. "If we can speed up the negotiations process... the border issue could be resolved in the near future," Kablia told a news conference in Rabat, after a meeting on regional security of interior ministers from the Arab Maghreb Union.

Morocco hardens stance against US ally over W. Sahara

Morocco's steadfast opposition to US-backed plans to broaden the mandate of UN peacekeepers in the disputed Western Sahara to human rights monitoring threatens to sour relations with key ally Washington. Rabat on Monday described the proposal as an attempt to "deform" the mandate of the two-decade-old peacekeeping force, and has launched a frantic lobbying campaign in defence of the kingdom's "sovereignty" over the territory it annexed in 1975 in a move never recognised by the international community.
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