92. Telegram 170882 From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

170882. Subject: Spanish Sahara: U.S. Policy. Ref.: A) Madrid 4839; B) Rabat 3412; C) USUN 3321; D) Madrid 4949.

1. Department appreciates timely reporting, analysis and recommendations on Sahara problem from various addressee posts. As seen from here issue appears to be boiling down to question of modalities of transfer of sovereignty of Sahara from Spain to Morocco and Mauritania in accordance with the partition plan the latter two have devised and Algeria publicly endorsed in Bouteflika-Hassan communiqué of July 4. Even though we have no firm details of the new Algerian position, and we can assume Algeria is capable of pursuing policies that might cause frustration to GOM, Department believes that July 4 public declaration of Algerian satisfaction with Moroccan-Mauritanian agreement on Sahara’s future, Algerian publicity given to declaration, and King Hassan’s stated conviction that there are no problems now with Algeria (Ref B) tip scales significantly against Spanish view that Algeria has not changed its policy (Ref D).

2. It appears to us that Spanish are pushing UN sponsored four-power conference with Algerian participation in hopes latter could be counted on to impede what GOS probably sees as complete, and perhaps humiliating victory for Morocco (and Mauritania) on Sahara issues. For their part, Morocco and Mauritania are probably pushing three-power conference with Spain precisely to nail down details of their apparent victory before UN has opportunity to perhaps make suggestions they might consider unhelpful to their position. It would be understandable if Spanish pride is a major factor in determining Sahara tactics. This could account for Madrid’s failure to respond to King Hassan’s temptations of economic and security arrangements if a deal is made before the ICJ and UN state their findings. Spain could and probably would respond to Moroccan/Mauritanian pressure for deal by saying, with some justice, that it has no authority to transfer sovereignty of Sahara to any country, this being the responsibility of UN.

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3. In light of the foregoing, Department sees no U.S. interests to be served by getting involved in advice to Waldheim or interested parties that could be interpreted as prejudicial to the policies or goals of any of the parties. Threat of hostilities over Sahara has been sharply reduced since Algerian-Moroccan declaration and issue seems headed for resolution, given apparent growing Arab/African support, in favor of Morocco and Mauritania. Probably best Spain can hope for is UN involvement in process of transferring sovereignty that will minimize effect on Spanish pride.

4. In regard to latter, Department does wish, however, to offer some recognition of Spanish problem even though we are not prepared to depart from our neutral policy. Action addressees should therefore carry out following instructions:

A. For USUN—Ambassador Moynihan: You should thank Waldheim for informing us and express our continuing interest in learning of UN or other efforts to resolve the Sahara dispute peacefully. You should also reaffirm to Waldheim that U.S. policy on the Sahara continues to be neutrality on the substance of the issue and this extends to requests for support by interested parties for various negotiating proposals that other parties might see as prejudicial to their positions. However, you may add that our judgement is that all parties have recognized that the UN has some role to play in view of past UN resolutions and the current ICJ proceedings. You should then say that the modalities would have to be worked out by Waldheim and the interested parties, but we would like to be kept informed.

B. For Madrid—Ambassador Stabler: You should tell Under Secretary Rovira that in appreciation of Spanish concern over the Sahara issue the U.S. is communicating to Waldheim its keen interest in seeing a peaceful resolution of the Sahara problem and asking Waldheim to inform U.S. on diplomatic developments in that regard. We are also conveying our judgement to Waldheim that all parties have recognized that the UN has some role to play in view of past UN resolutions and the current ICJ proceedings, but that the modalities would have to be worked out by him and the interested parties. However, in order not to prejudice its relations with any of the interested parties the USG has decided to continue its policy of neutrality and not to endorse specific proposals made by any of the parties.

5. For Rabat—Ambassador Neumann: For reasons cited above, we see no advantage to be had by USG offering to mediate between Spain and Morocco as proposed in Ref B. However, we take this opportunity to commend your comprehensive and expeditious reporting in Sahara dispute as seen from Morocco.

  1. Summary: Kissinger issued instructions for the Ambassadors to the United Nations, Spain, and Algeria regarding U.S. policy on the Spanish Sahara.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Sent immediate to Rabat and Madrid, and repeated to Algiers, Nouakchott, and Paris. Drafted by Michael L. Durkee in EUR/WE and Joseph V. Montville in NEA/AFN; cleared by Sisco, Atherton, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Arthur A. Hartman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs James J. Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs William B. Buffum, and Johnson; and approved by Kissinger.