The Arab League Secretary-General, Mahmoud Riad, arrived in Algeria on Friday (20 February) to try to defuse the crisis over the Western Sahara which has brought the threat of a war between Algeria and Morocco.
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Background: The Arab League Secretary-General, Mahmoud Riad, arrived in Algeria on Friday (20 February) to try to defuse the crisis over the Western Sahara which has brought the threat of a war between Algeria and Morocco.
He arrived in Algiers on the first leg of a mission which will also take him to Morocco and Mauritania.
Mr. Riad said at the airport he had come for "consultations and exchanges of view on the present problem of the Arab world".
Algeria has said earlier mediation efforts by nine Arab states and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) have so far failed and has shown no sign of optimism about the outcome of Mr. Riad's mission.
The semi-official daily, El Moudjahid said that Mr. Riad would have no more success than the others, unless he consulted the Western Sahara's Polisario Front independence movement which is fighting a guerrilla war against the Moroccan and Mauritanian armies in the Sahara.
Algeria insists that all foreign forces must be withdrawn from the Western Sahara and a referendum held on the territory's future, under United Nations supervision. The Western Sahara was a Spanish colony until Spain relinquished its claim and evacuated its troops late last year.
Morocco said the future of the Western Sahara was decided by an international agreement with Spain and Mauritania last November and that representatives of the Saharan people have accepted this.