108. Telegram 264586 From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

264586. Subject: Spanish Sahara.

1. We have been reviewing what, if any, additional steps we might take to help defuse the increasingly volatile Sahara situation. Department still wishes to keep us out of the middle of this dispute and keep UN in forefront. Of course, we are mindful of failure of UN efforts thus far and Moroccan reluctance to follow any route other than bilateral negotiations with Spain. However, in view of latter’s insistence that UN be involved, which, of course, is also an Algerian requirement, we think there may be a way of squaring the circle.

2. What we have in mind is a proposal by Waldheim that Morocco and Spain engage in bilateral negotiations under his auspices and with his participation (much along the lines of the formula followed in the Cyprus communal talks). This would permit Morocco to say that bilateral negotiations are taking place but would provide Spaniards and Al[Page 294]gerians an element of UN involvement. For such effort to be successful, terms of reference of talks should probably not be precise.

3. We believe SYG already has enough authority under existing resolutions to make such a proposal to the parties inasmuch as he was asked in several recent resolutions to “consult with the parties concerned and interested and report to the Security Council on the results in order to enable the Council to adopt any further appropriate measures that may be necessary.” Thus, we do not think it would be necessary for him to get further specific authorization from the Council although he would, of course, report to the Council when and if he receives the parties’ consent.

4. Accordingly, request you see Waldheim urgently. You should tell him we do not want any indication given that this suggestion has originated with US. However, in reviewing the state of play we conclude that about the only possibility we see of reversing the present trend toward a conflict would be for him to take an immediate and vigorous initiative proposing that Spain and Morocco undertake negotiations under his auspices. Ideally, the Moroccans would treat this proposal for bilateral negotiations as adequate grounds for withdrawal of the marchers, which could well be sine qua non for containing Algerian objections to such a proposal.

5. If he asks whether US would actively support such effort you may say we would be as helpful as we can; however, he should understand that our own efforts with Hassan have been of no avail thus far, and he might consider seeking assistance from a country like France which has so far not been engaged, but which has special influence and special relations with the parties to support his proposal.

6. You may share contents of Rabat’s 5404 on confidential basis with Waldheim.

  1. Summary: The Department offered a proposal for Waldheim to resolve the Spanish Sahara crisis, involving bilateral negotiations between Morocco and Spain under UN auspices. Kissinger requested Waldheim not indicate this was a U.S. proposal.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P850011–1985. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Repeated to Rabat, Madrid, Paris, and Algiers. Drafted by Buffum and Blake; cleared by Hartman, Ortiz, and Atherton; and approved by Kissinger. In telegram 5404 from Rabat, November 7, the Department was informed that Morocco had postponed the Green March for 24 hours to allow bilateral diplomatic efforts with Spain to continue, and that the Government of Morocco was willing to allow the UN to provide an “umbrella” for agreements reached with Spain.