The UN envoy for Western Sahara is planning a new round of talks in Morocco and Algeria beginning next week to push for a return to negotiations on ending the conflict, diplomats said on Tuesday.

Horst Koehler, a former German president and ex-director of the International Monetary Fund, is expected to hold talks in Rabat with Moroccan officials on June 28 and 29 before heading to Laayoune to visit the UN observer mission based there, a diplomat said.

Another diplomat said Koehler is also expected to travel to Tindouf in western Algeria to meet with leaders of the Polisario Front, but no firm date is set for that meeting.

Morocco and the Polisario Front fought for control of Western Sahara from 1975 to 1991, but diplomatic efforts to end the conflict have been deadlocked since the last round of UN-sponsored talks in 2008.

The Security Council in April approved a US-drafted resolution that urged Morocco and the Polisario to prepare for talks, setting a six-month deadline for action.

Morocco maintains that negotiations on a settlement should focus on its proposal for autonomy for Western Sahara and rejects the Polisario’s insistence on an independence referendum.

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