101. Telegram Secto 27/727 From Secretary of State Rogers in Morocco to the Department of State1 2

Corrected copy (should read Secto 27 and add Algiers, Tripoli, and Madrid as info addressees per originator)
Fol msg received from Rabat repeated for your info with addition to para 4.

Quote Rabat 0602. Tunis for S/S Gleysteen


  • Secretary’s Bilateral Meeting With Prime Minister Laraki
Participants—Secretary, accompanied by Pedersen, Newsom, Charge, and Toumayan as interpreter, called on Foreign Minister Ahmed Laraki at 1130 hours Feb. 9. Also present were Ambassador Osman, Ambassador Nekrouf, and Abdel Hamid Kriem, Director of Economic Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Introduction—After complimentary remarks by Laraki, Secretary said President Nixon had great personal interest in Morocco and high regard for it. USG looked to Morocco as pivot in this part of the world. He hoped the FonMin would speak frankly to him, since he wanted to be able to report realistically to President in order that US policy in Africa be as productive as possible.
Spanish Sahara–Prime Minister said King Hassan sought to improve relations with his neighbors. He had therefore muted certain claims, however just they might have been. The only outstanding point still in litigation was Spanish Sahara. As everyone knew, this territory was Arab in population. UN resolution advocating self-determination for the people of Spanish Sahara had been introduced by Morocco. This showed that Morocco was not interested in expansion or annexation. However, Morocco’s approaches to Spain, including King Hassan’s visit to madrid in 1969, had not borne fruit. It was the strategic, not economic side of Spanish Sahara which interested Morocco. Issue of Saharan phosphates had been blown up out of all proportion. There was a reserve of only one and a half billion tons of phosphate in Spanish Sahara, whereas the Moroccan reserve was 20 billion. The cost of producing Saharan phosphates would be less than in the USA or Morocco. However, phosphate production in Morocco was a state monopoly. The state could make the necessary sacrifices over a two or three year period if it wished to overwhelm Saharan phosphates. Population of Spanish Sahara was very small and might easily fall prey to communist or Chinese influence, making possible the realization of old dream of a communist opening to the Atlantic. Morocco had not given up hope of reaching an agreement with Spain. It was surprised, however, that US, which had always supported UN resolution, had abstained this year.

Secretary noted that US was involved in delicate negotiations with Spain. Newsom confirmed this and pointed out that it was often necessary, when US had friends on opposite sides of a question, to abstain. Pedersen observed that this did not mean any change from US position on self-determination. Prime Minister said Morocco also favored self-determination and believed that if this were carried out under UN auspices, people of Spanish Sahara would chose union with Morocco. In response to question from Secretary when this process might take placed Laraki replied that he doubted it would be while Franco was alive. However, Morocco was willing to assist in economic development of the area, with Spain as well as with others.


(Subsequent discussions this subject with Moroccan officials disclosed their belief that US position dictated by interests US companies in Spanish Sarahan phosphates. We assured GOM this not factor in decision on resolution. Discussions also disclosed Spanish Foreign Minister Bravo visiting Morocco, probably in March.)

Algeria–When Secretary noted that US had recently renewed relations with Mauritania, PriMin added that he hoped US renewal of relations with Algeria would soon follow. He said His Majesty had tried to lead Algerian regime toward Maghreb cooperation rather than toward Middle East and Ben Bella had done. This had been successful and Islamic and Arab summits had shown certain concurrence of views between Algerian and Moroccan Governments. Secretary noted desire of Bouteflika for better relations with US, with resultant upgrading of interest sections in both countries. Relations were improving, as indicated by large El Paso contract. US would be happy renew relations whenever Algerians wished. It agreed also that Maghreb unity should be strengthened. He was glad therefore that His Majesty was taking lead.
Middle East—Laraki expressed view that peace was indivisible. If Middle East problem [Page 5] were not resolved, if great powers did not succeed in imposing peace, there was risk of world-wide conflagration. To impose a negotiated peace was almost impossible in view of hatred and distrust between Arabs and Israelis. He feared SC resolutions would soon be bypassed by events. US had at least as substantial an interest in Arab countries as in Israel. Morocco was concerned over increasing infiltration of Soviets in the area, first in Syria, then Iraq, Sudan, and Libya. The screw was being tightened. The trend was not yet irreversible but it soon would be. King Hassan thought that any solution which did not take account of the Palestinian problem was doomed to failure. A solution acceptable to the Palestinians who were realistic, as Morocco had observed at the Arab summit, would be a just solution. It was admittedly difficult to ask such pioneers of Zionism as Golda Meir and Dayan to accept such a solution but the new generation might. In this connection he cited a declaration by Mapai Secretary Elia (sp?) that an arrangement [Page 6] with the Palestinians would be best for all concerned.
Secretary agreed resolution of ME problem was in US interest. However, great powers could not impose a solution if they wanted to. If US had learned one thing, that was that it could not impose its will and it had no intention of trying to do so. It would do what it could, however, to encourage parties to resolve their problems. He had made us position clear in December 9 speech, knowing it would not satisfy everyone. US position was nevertheless a balanced one. Just as Morocco had given up certain claims it thought just, US thought parties to ME conflict must subordinate certain demands. Laraki noted that Arabs had not rejected US proposals. US diplomacy must convince Mrs. Meir Israel was losing what might be unique opportunity to bring about just solution. Secretary said US appreciated what King Hassan had accompliished at summit conferences. He realized that Morocco and most other reasonable Arab countries did not reject US proposals. However, we saw no indication Nasser doing anything to help get negotiations started. Israel also had not shown disposition to negotiate on basis our proposals, but if Nasser were to indicate his readiness, it probably would.
US aid—Laraki noted that a strong Morocco required development aid. He hoped US aid would be better adapted to Moroccan needs, however. At present, US aid tended to depend on climate. In bad years PL–480 wheat and counterpart funds were available for development projects. In good years they were not. Morocco hoped to see more projects such as lower Moulouya, which US had financed almost entirely, and Nouasseur air base conversion. However, he would leave this subject to Director General Slaoui who had requested Secretary make unscheduled call on him. (See septel.)
Dickinson Calhoun
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 7 S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. It was repeated Priority to Rabat and to Algiers, Tripoli, and Madrid. Rogers was in Morocco February 7–9.
  2. This telegram transmitted an account of Rogers’ February 9 meeting with Prime Minister Laraki in Rabat. At this meeting, participants focused their discussion on the Spanish Sahara, Algeria, and, especially, peace in the Middle East.