Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s personal envoy on the issue, Peter van Walsum, held talks with the POLISARIO leadership and local elders in the Tindouf region of southern Algeria a day after discussions with King Mohammed VI of Morocco.The POLISARIO officials gave him a warm welcome and reiterated their confidence in the UN to enable the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination without further delay, a UN spokesman said.Mr. van Walsum, a Dutch career diplomat who succeeded former envoy James A. Baker III in July and is on his first visit to the region, said there was consensus within the international community on the need to reach a solution to the Western Sahara issue as soon as possible.In his latest report to the Security Council in August, Mr. Annan said there had been no agreement on what could be done to overcome the deadlock over the peace plan, proposed in 2003 by Mr. Baker, which envisaged a period of transition during which there would be a division of responsibilities between Morocco and the POLISARIO before holding a referendum.The 14-year-old UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been monitoring a ceasefire between the two sides and seeking to organize a vote.Mr. van Walsum is also due to have talks with the leaders of Mauritania, which abandoned its claim to the territory on 1979, and Algeria.
The rail operator said it had come from a “line side fire”Credit:Lauren Hurley/PA Passengers on a packed commuter train were forced to flee when they heard several “explosions” and saw a fire flare up alongside the carriage.The South Western Railway service was travelling between London Waterloo and Hampton Court at around 6.30pm when witnesses reported seeing sparks and smoke.It pulled into Berrylands station, south-west London, where commuters were told to leave the platform by emergency services.Dramatic pictures posted on social media show flames shooting up the side of the train’s front carriage.The rail operator said it had come from a “line side fire”, prompting cancellations and delays along the line. Media Consultant Graham Lovelace, 55, was travelling home to Hampton Court when he was caught up in the scare.He told the Press Association: “(The) train was busy, front carriages packed, passengers standing – including me.”Just after we left New Malden station there were loud bangs and bright white sparks.”I was in the front carriage where the electrical fault seemed to be located.”There was a strong smell of smoke and passengers shouted to open the windows.”Soon after there were more large sparks and more smoke. “As the train pulled into Berrylands station people left the train, but that was when the biggest explosions happened. Everyone got off the train and stood on the platform.” The South Western Railway service was travelling between London Waterloo and Hampton CourtCredit: Victoria Jones/PA Fire crews soon arrived on the scene and ordered everyone off the platform, he added.South Western said: “We are currently in contact with the train crew, and our specialist teams will be working hard to ascertain the problem and rectify it as soon as possible to get the line reopened.”The fire service are also on the scene to investigate the cause of the fire.”Initial reports suggested that a train had caught fire, this has now been confirmed not have been the case.”