16. Telegram 174764 From the Department of State to the Interests Section in Algeria1 2


  • Secretary’s Meeting with Bouteflika
Following memcon Secretary’s meeting with Bouteflika New York October 10 is uncleared, subject revision upon review, FYI NOFORN.
Secretary said he gathered relations had been improving for last year or two; that this was good trend which we would like to see continued. Asked FonMin’s views. FonMin thanked Secretary for providing opportunity to meet. Said that US-Algerian relations had improved since 1967 break; that it not correct call it break, would be more correct to call change “slow-down.” In fact, it seemed that US-Algerian relations had never been better than during “slow-down.” Cultural and economic fields in recent past had been quite positive, notwithstanding day-to-day contingencies [Page 2] and fluctuations of the international scene. He believed we were meeting requirements for quite positive relationship.
FonMin indicated that Algerian relations with USSR should not preclude improvement in its relations with US, particularly in economic field. Our relations should develop on same lines as with USSR and France. What had opposed development of relations were political problems of an external character.
FonMin felt that two countries should be careful not to engage in changes that might prove “traumatic” and leave sequels in future. Relations in economic field were improving dramatically, particularly in field of hydrocarbons. He believed that Sinclair, one of major oil firms with investments in Algeria, would be acting in its own best interests if it did not create a situation that would be useless and lead nowhere, because there certainly possibilities of settling such disputes through friendly compromise. This [Page 3] was all more important as there were no opposing interests between US oil corporations and Algeria; whereas in case of French investments, very nature and size of holdings are a problem. Compromise settlements with US would be useful in their negotiations with French. It was Algeria’s purpose to reduce the “immense” French investments to manageable size.
FonMin reiterated his country not preserve of one or another great power, that it does not entertain privileged relations with one great power or another but wanted relations with all major powers.
FonMin then summarized his presentation. Algeria was now working to consolidate its relations in all fields and to achieve normalization in all aspects of its economic development through its own efforts and through cooperation with others, in the hope that its relations with US will enter a new era known in past.
Secretary asked whether he had any specific ideas on [Page 4] improving relations. FonMin said he recognize that efforts of cooperation are closely tied with political conditions. He said he was now sure beyond a doubt that US was no longer interested in Vietnam as such and that it wished to settle question and establish peace. Algeria would always support any actions US took toward peace. In Middle East a positive US gesture would make a great impact on Algerians. He saw no essential impediments to improvements.
Secretary thanked FonMin for his presentation. He said we would consider seriously the question of improving relations and expressed pleasure that relations had improved some between the two countries in last few years. He agreed Algeria was sometimes a “difficult partner” and said that he understood. He noted US public and Congress generally felt that Algeria was an aligned country, because it so often, almost without exception, was aligned against US positions. It was hard to convince them that we received the same [Page 5] treatment as USSR. We hoped these obstacles could be overcome in future because we had no interests in conflict. Secretary said US Congress and public opinion did not expect Algeria to be aligned with US, but they certainly did not want Algeria always aligned against US. If they were always against us it would be hard to convince people Algeria was unaligned. Secretary concluded, however, that US would like to improve relations, and we would meet them half way.
FonMin responded that perhaps it would be possible for him to consider designating someone in his Department to be in direct contact with the US Charge in Algeria and vice versa in Washington. Secretary said he thought that was good idea, that we would designate someone promptly.
Full memcons follow by pouch. Guidance contained septel.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–1969, POL 7 ALG. Secret; Priority; Limdis. It was repeated to Paris, Rabat, and Tunis. Drafted by Lowrie and approved by Bray. The septel was telegram 176130 to Algiers, October 17, in which the Department expressed gratification at the improved tone in U.S.-Algerian relations, but regretted that it stopped short of full diplomatic resumption. It also advised the Interests Section that Acting Director of AF/N Charles Bray would be the official Algerian contact in Washington. (Ibid., POL 17 US-ALG)
  2. This telegram transmitted a memorandum of a conversation between the Secretary of State and Algerian Foreign Minister Bouteflika. Over the course of the meeting the two men discussed improving U.S.-Algerian relations, Algeria’s relationship with the other major powers and the possible course its new economic programs would follow.