136. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Morocco0

1660. As you are aware, decision to provide major military aviation package for King of Morocco was extremely distasteful one to make, and has always been considered at best as gamble which had to be taken to try to limit to extent possible further Soviet involvement with Moroccan armed forces especially aviation.

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While we have now completed all necessary paperwork here to be in position to move rapidly as soon as agreement reached by you with King, it also follows that if for any reason we should conclude either that such action would fail in its purpose of preclusion, or that even without it King might be induced to reduce his dependence on Soviets, we should not hesitate to withdraw or hold back for time our air transport offer.

Arrival of substantial Soviet arms shipments is most unfortunate coincidence, even if King’s [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] explanation on helicopters is accepted at face value. This situation will certainly cause adverse public and congressional reaction, and raises certain questions in our mind. We wonder in this respect whether King himself might not have reason be genuinely concerned at our probable reaction, and whether in fact it might not be salutary to encourage such concern on his part. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] do you think that King would really be ready to sever his heretofore fruitful relationships with us and open floodgates to Soviets? Do you think even Soviets would be disposed, against strong Opposition objections and at eventual risk of alienating Algerians, to continue to embrace and fortify “reactionary” Moroccan monarchy? Do you think that failure at this point to proceed with air transport offer would seriously jeopardize our base tenure through 1963 or possibilities of acquiring post-1963 communications rights?

We are not persuaded that because King has learned we about to make air transport offer we are irretrievably committed to go through with it. Furthermore, is it wise to cut short opposition criticism of King over present Soviet arms shipments by giving public demonstration his tactic of manipulation both sides is highly successful?

Accordingly, we believe that King’s uneasiness over our reaction to his moves has made it desirable that you make approach to him along following lines (leaving to your discretion whether more effective cover all points in single audience or in several stages):

We are ready to proceed with our programs of assistance but in view his increasing involvement with Soviets, as well as its effect on our public opinion and on sound military policy, we cannot continue indefinitely to increase our assistance to Moroccan armed services in face of what can only appear to everyone as direct competition with Soviets. Tanks and cannons seem to us go beyond definition of “light arms” and we understand there will be Soviet technicians to service tanks. We accept in good faith his assurances helicopters not for Moroccan use. You would like to be able inform USG of positive assurance no further Moroccan-Soviet military deals are under consideration.
USG entirely ready implement air transport offer promptly and you are prepared to discuss details forthwith. We could have first group of planes in Morocco by May 14 for fly past, but Washington is seriously [Page 208] disturbed over implications of proceeding in face Soviet arms arrivals and you feel it desirable convey strongest possible assurances from King himself.
In your discretion as conversation develops, and in particular if King should be forthcoming on assurances as we would hope, you may discuss State visit, MAP and increased ammunition allocation and Navy package as you propose (Embtel 1799).1 We feel that in proceeding to talk in foregoing manner with King you should know that we would hope you could make of the occasion a real heart-to-heart talk with him to limit of your discretion, bearing in mind even in course of conversation that if you should detect reasons for holding back offer of such magnitude you should do so.

FYI. You should understand that there is no sympathy in Washington for providing a command plane for the King at the present time and your conversation with the King will therefore have to take this into consideration. End FYI.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 771.56/4-1662. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Witman, Root, and McClintic; cleared by Wolfe, Newman, Valliere, Tasca, and Whitfield (DOD); and approved by Fredericks. Repeated to Paris, Madrid, CINCEUR, and CINCSAC for POLAD.
  2. On April 16, Bonsal requested Department of State authorization to meet with the King and during this meeting to transmit the President’s invitation for a State visit, offer the air transport package, and to discuss furnishing increased U.S. ammunition in connection with MAP. (Telegram 1799 from Rabat, April 16; ibid.)