109. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • Presidential Emissary to Discuss U.S. Communications Facilities in Morocco

You may have seen the telegram at Tab B reporting the King of Morocco’s desire to discuss the status of the U.S. communications facility at Kenitra (Morocco) with a Presidential emissary.

As you know, King Hassan has a distressing penchant for emissaries, but [Page 2] in this case he has more reason than usual. The presence of our communications facilities—naval [text not declassified]—is based only on an oral understanding between him and President Kennedy in 1963. When our SAC bases there were closed, these facilities stayed on under the Moroccan flag and training activities for Moroccans are conducted there.

As a result of news stories coming out of the Symington Subcommittee, this has again blown up as a public issue in Morocco. The King’s opposition has charged the King with allowing a U.S. “base” on Moroccan soil. Disturbed by this, the King has asked for an emissary (a) to review the implications of the continued existence of these bases and (b) to assure him that they are indeed Communications facilities and not operational bases.

The logical course of action would be:

  • —to complete our own review (underway) of the need for these facilities;
  • —to discuss our conclusions with the Moroccan technical level;
  • —to ratify new arrangements at the top.

Ambassador Rockwell proposed this procedure, but the King still feels he would like to see an emissary.

In this case, I would be inclined to go along since there is one possible emissary who would make a lot of sense. Robert Murphy not only has a longstanding association with the King [text not declassified] One of the issues here will be what price the U.S. will be prepared to pay Hassan in military assistance (from a depleted African budget) in return for continuation at Kenitra.

The telegram at Tab A, therefore, says we are prepared to send an emissary in two or three weeks, as soon as the latest round of publicity on the issue has died down.

While I would normally try to turn this off, I think we might as well respond promptly and get this issue settled. Otherwise, this problem will still be hanging around to confront the President when Hassan makes his official visit in March (assuming the President approves the proposed visit list).

RECOMMENDATION: That you authorize clearance of the telegram at Tab A.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 740, Country Files, Africa, Morocco, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for action. Kissinger approved the recommendation and wrote on the memorandum, “Ok with Saunders changes and delete last [paragraph] HK.” Attached but not printed at Tab A telegram 195658 to Rabat, December 1. It confirmed that the U.S. Government did not regard Kenitra as a U.S. base. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 15–MOR-US) Attached but not printed at Tab B is telegram 5136 from Rabat, November 25.
  2. Saunders recommended that the administration yield to King Hassan’s wish for an emissary to discuss U.S. facilities in Morocco, complete a review of the need for the facilities, and possibly ratify new arrangements with the GOM.