A meeting took pace in Algiers on Sunday (1 February) between representatives of the Algerian-backed Saharan Independence Movement, the Polisario Front, and delegation form the Democratic Junta of Spain, led by the Secretary-General of the Spanish Communist Parity, Santiago Carrillo.
SV Spanish delegation seated PAN TO Polisario delegation seated opposite
CU Polisario leader speaking in French
CU Carillo speaks for Spanish delegation
Initials CL/1642 CL/1700
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Background: A meeting took pace in Algiers on Sunday (1 February) between representatives of the Algerian-backed Saharan Independence Movement, the Polisario Front, and delegation form the Democratic Junta of Spain, led by the Secretary-General of the Spanish Communist Parity, Santiago Carrillo.
At the end of the meeting the two delegation issued a joint communique condemning what it called "The Madrid Government's surrender to annexionist pressures form the regimes of Morocco and Mauritania". The communique accused Spain of going back on its word to the Saharan people and the international community in a way that "affronted the dignity of the Spanish people and the honour of its army."
The meeting took place three days after a battle between an Algerian military unit and Moroccan forces at the Amgala Oasis in the Western Sahara. The Algerians claim that the Army unit was attacked by Moroccan troops that outnumbered the ten to one. The semi-official Algerian newspaper, El Moudjahid, reported that about 400 Moroccan soldiers ware killed in the battle.
On Monday (2 February) officials in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, denied the claims and described them as "pure fantasy". They put Moroccan casualties at tow dead and 14 wounded. But they put the Algerian losses at 200 dead and 109 captured.
Arab envoys from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and South Yemen, have since been searching for a way out of the crisis and to stop it escalating into a full-scalae war. Relations between Algeria on the one hand, ad Morocco and Mauritania on the other, are probably at a lower ebb now that at any time since the three countries gained independence form colonial rule.
Algerian officials have so far shown an obvious lack of enthusiasm for the current mediation efforts, and they have indicated that as far as they are concerned, the first moves have to be made by Morocco.