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UN's Western Sahara envoy to hold talks in Berlin

© RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/File | UN envoy Horst Kohler (L), seen here meeting with Polisario secretary general Brahim Ghali in October, has called for talks in Berlin on the Western Sahara

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) - 

The UN envoy on Western Sahara talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front has invited the parties and neighboring countries to Berlin for bilateral talks, a UN spokesperson said Tuesday.

Former German president Horst Koehler has invited the foreign ministers of Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, as well as Polisario Front Secretary-General Brahim Ghali, Koehler's spokesman said.

No date was given in the statement beyond mention of "this January and February."

Koehler was appointed in August as special envoy to lead a new UN push for talks between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front on Western Sahara.

Morocco and the Polisario fought for control of Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991, with Rabat taking over the desert territory before a UN-brokered ceasefire in the former Spanish colony.

Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory, but the Polisario Front insists on a UN referendum on independence.

The announcement of the Berlin invitation coincides with a rise of tension in the region.

Morocco accuses the Polisarios of carrying out raids into the buffer zone on the border with Mauritania.

Tensions also increased after the legal advisor to the European Court of Justice in early January said that a European Union fisheries deal with Morocco placed the trade bloc "in breach of its obligation to respect the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination."

The United Nations opened negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario in 2007 and there have been several rounds since, with the latest held outside of New York in 2012.

© 2018 AFP