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Staffan de Mistura of Italy is new Envoy for Western Sahara

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 6 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Staffan de Mistura of Italy as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara.

De Mistura succeeds Horst Köhler of Germany, who completed his assignment on 22 May 2019 and to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his steadfast and intensive efforts which laid the foundation for a new momentum in the political process on Western Sahara.

The new Personal Envoy will provide good offices on behalf of the Secretary-General.  He will work with all relevant interlocutors, including the parties, neighbouring countries and other stakeholders, guided by Security Council resolution 2548 (2020) and other relevant resolutions.

US Secretary of State Blinken welcomed the appointment

In Washington the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the appointment: “Personal Envoy de Mistura brings considerable expertise – addressing challenges in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria – to this important position and we will actively support his efforts to promote a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Western Sahara and the region.  We strongly support Personal Envoy de Mistura’s leadership in resuming the UN-led political process to advance a durable and dignified resolution to the conflict in Western Sahara”, Blinken said.

Morocco also welcomed the appointment: “We have been consulted beforehand about this appointment and has already notified (UN chief) Antonio Guterres of its approval,” the Permanent Representative to the UN, Omar Hilale, said in an interview on state news agency MAP. Several diplomatic sources at the UN told AFP that the Moroccan turnaround was due to “strong pressure” from the United States and France. It came after Morocco’s arch-rival Algeria, the main backer of the separatist Polisario Front, had cut diplomatic ties with Morocco. Guterres has put forward a dozen names for the role and was unable to reach a consensus with all sides. But the Polisario previously said it would accept the nomination of de Mistura, who has decades of diplomatic experience including as a UN envoy in Syria.

40 years of experience in diplomacy

Mr. de Mistura brings more than 40 years of experience in diplomacy and political affairs. During his career with the United Nations, he served as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, providing good offices aimed at promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.  Prior appointments include Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and for Iraq, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Southern Lebanon, and Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Rome.  He also served the Organization in various posts in Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Vietnam and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, among others.

In addition to his service with the United Nations, he was appointed Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and thereafter Deputy Foreign Minister in Italy. (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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