The UN Envoy for the Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, is preparing what will be his first trip to the region since he was appointed to the post by the Secretary-General last October.
The spokesman for the Secretary General, Stéphane Dujarric, confirmed at a press conference that De Mistura "is in contact with the relevant parties and with the neighbours, looking forward to (carrying out) this visit", for which he did not give dates or details of his agenda.
According to EFE news agency, the visit will begin in the middle of this week and will include an initial contact with the Moroccan government in Rabat and with the Polisario Front at its headquarters in Tindouf.
According to these sources, De Mistura will not travel, at least on this occasion, to Laayoune or to the Moroccan-controlled Sahrawi territory, a stage that is always considered delicate and which depends on the will of the Moroccan government.
Nor, in principle, is a stopover planned in Algiers, the capital involved in the conflict with the status of "observer", but which Morocco considers to be a fundamental part of the Polisario's decision-making process, according to Rabat.
Morocco and Algeria broke off diplomatic relations in August, and this could complicate the search for a negotiated and definitive solution to the Sahara dispute.
Asked whether this rupture affects De Mistura's mission, the spokesman limited himself to replying that "as a principle, things are less complicated when there are positive bilateral relations than when they are negative", without further assessment.
De Mistura has before him the difficult task of unblocking a conflict that has become entrenched due to the parties' refusal to yield on what they consider unquestionable: for Polisario, a referendum on self-determination with the option of independence; for Morocco, a proposal for autonomy within Moroccan sovereignty.