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


  • Robert Murphy’s Trip to Morocco

You will recall that Robert Murphy scurried off to Morocco in mid-December to discuss the future of the Kenitra communications facilities with King Hassan. Ambassador Rockwell, who was present at the meeting, sent in a report based on both is own and Mr. Murphy’s observations which was sent to you at the time. What it all boiled down to was the fact that the King wanted more U.S. aid.

To wind up his responsibilities, Mr. Murphy has sent Secretary Rogers a fuller account of the meeting with a copy of the letter designated for you [attached]. Murphy’s report is basically in harmony with Rockwell’s:

  • —Murphy shares with Rockwell the impression that the King is simply trying to exploit the situation to derive substantial material benefits from the U.S. He was told that “nominal and picayune items will no longer do.” However, Murphy also stressed that the atmosphere was entirely friendly and he does not believe the King intends to eject or threaten to eject the facilities. [As Rockwell had noted, the King indicated that he had no complexes about bases; he simply wanted to know “what President Nixon wanted” in connection with them.]
  • —Murphy also concluded that the King has decided that this is a good time to bargain and that the negotiations ought to be kept at the Chief of State level.
  • —The King agreed that the Russians have been active in stimulating domestic opposition to the U.S. facilities, doubtless because of the ramifications they may have for the Soviet Mediterranean fleet. He indicated that he had been quite courageous in his talks with Brezhnev in Moscow. In that connection, Rockwell recalled the King’s annoyance over the yearly negotiations for PL 480 wheat and other aid which were not felt to be commensurate with the difficulties occasioned by the U.S. military presence in Morocco; in the King’s words, “if, however, the counterpart were sufficient, then I could look Brezhnev in the face.”
  • —Murphy was hopeful the King would be more specific as to his wants—he went only so far as to say he would send an emissary to Washington and, of course, discuss the matter with the President himself—and the King was equally disappointed that Murphy had nothing substantial to say on the matter of “counterpart.”
  • —Murphy also came away with the impression that the hasty American departure from Wheelus came as somewhat of a surprise to the Moroccans.

There is nothing you need to do about this at the moment. Here is what is in train:

I have told State to get this settled before King Hassan comes on his visit in March. We probably cannot prevent his raising the subject with the President because he remembers bargaining personally with President Kennedy for more aid in return for allowing us to stay at Kenitra when our SAC bases closed in 1963. Nevertheless, I have told State I did not think President Nixon would want to get into that and thought he would prefer this issue to be settled.
The military [text not declassified] have just finished their study of how badly they want to retain these facilities. Their study will be the subject of IG study very shortly. At that point, I shall discuss with you what the options look like and how you might wish to involve yourself.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 740, Country Files, Africa, Morocco, Vol. I. Secret; Exdis. Sent for information. The attachment, dated December 17, is not printed. Rockwell’s report on the same conversation was sent in telegram 5409 from Rabat, December 15, 1970. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 15 MOR-US)
  2. Saunders summarized for Kissinger a copy of Robert Murphy’s report of his discussion with King Hassan. According to Murphy, it all boiled down to Hassan’s desire for additional U.S. aid.