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Vol 45 No 13

Published 25th June 2004

Iraq first

After seven frustrating years, former United States Secretary of State James Baker III has resigned as the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy to Western Sahara. He is 74 and busy enough as George W. Bush's envoy for restructuring Iraq's huge official debt. As Kofi Annan's Saharan Special Representative, Peru's Alvaro de Soto will take over; he is an experienced diplomat, involved in ending El Salvador's civil war in 1991. This challenge is just as great. Baker's latest plan, agreed last year, was to give the former Spanish colony five years of semi-autonomy before a referendum offering independence, integration with Morocco,or a face-saving 'third way' of autonomy that foreign diplomats, but none of the protagonists, like.

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