89. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Houari Boumediene, President of the Revolutionary Council
  • Ahmed Medeghri, Member of the Revolutionary Council and Minister of Interior
  • Ismail Hamdani, Deputy Secretary General of Presidency
  • Driss al-Djazairy, Presidential Assistant (Interpreter)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Richard Parker, Chief of U.S. Interests Section
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
  • Alex Toumayan, State Department

SUBJECTS

  • Next Steps in the Middle East Negotiation; Bilateral Relations; Oil Prices; Spanish Sahara

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Spanish Sahara.]

Spanish Sahara

Boumediene: What is your view of the Sahara problem?

Kissinger: Spanish Sahara.

Boumediene: The Moroccans will raise it.

Kissinger: And the Spaniards have! You want my honest view?

Boumediene: Yes, frankly.

Kissinger: I want it to go away! I can’t get excited about 40,000 people who probably don’t know they’re living in Spanish Sahara. I [Page 257]hope you don’t think I’m too cynical. We have no interest in Spain being there. It’s not logical for Spain to be in Africa.

Boumediene: What is your view on self-determination?

Kissinger: I’m for it, but I don’t think it’s natural for an entity so accidentally formed. So the only question is what country exerts a dominating influence. We will not be active in the area. What is your view? I’d be interested. The Moroccans say you want to annex it.

Boumediene: To give us an outlet! So our contacts would be easier! What’s your view?

Kissinger: In the long run it’s inevitable—leaving Spanish Sahara aside—that Algeria will become the dominant power in the Magreb.

Boumediene: In truth, so you’ll be informed, we have no such ambitions. If we had, we would proclaim our intention before the Algerian people. We are very much interested in maintaining the unity of our own people. We have agreements with Morocco, including in the oil area. So Morocco wants our support, and Mauretania. In my talks with King Hassan, I said: “Don’t ask me to take an immoral position.” There is an agreement between Mauretania and Morocco. The Moroccans say publicly this is Moroccan territory. There is an agreement with President Ould Daddah, and it was even mentioned by the American press. I don’t know how it got the information.

Kissinger: Is it true?

Boumediene: Yes.

Kissinger: That it’s Moroccan-Mauretanian territory.

Boumediene: We don’t want an outlet.

We want to exploit the iron ore deposits, but we don’t want it to be a point of conflict.

Kissinger: How can you exploit the ore if it’s not your territory?

Parker: The mines are on Algerian territory.

Kissinger: We will take no position. Or should we? It involves no American interest.

Boumediene: The Spaniards are our friends. So the problem is between Morocco and Mauretania, not with Spain. This is for history. Disagreement between Morocco and Mauretania is postponing a solution on this. The inhabitants should decide.

Kissinger: Would they know what they are being consulted about?

Boumediene: Some inhabitants are Moroccan, some are Mauretanian, and some are nomads. There are some of them in Algeria—but this doesn’t give Algeria any rights.

Kissinger: Could it be divided between Morocco and Mauretania?

Boumediene: I think the attitude is gradually evolving in the direction of division.

[Page 258]

Kissinger: We will take no position.

Boumediene: They say it will go to the International Court, the Hague. We said we have no objection.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Spanish Sahara.]

  1. Summary: Kissinger and Boumediene discussed Algeria’s position on the Spanish Sahara.

    Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 343, Department of State Memoranda, Memoranda of Conversations, External October–November 1974. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Presidential Palace. Kissinger was in Algeria to review the Middle East peace process with Boumediene.