99. Telegram 5445 From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

5445. For Secretary from Sisco. Subj: Spanish Sahara.

1. I saw Secretary General Waldheim, as you asked, and he gave me in detail the current state of play on his efforts re Spanish Sahara. He has developed a formula based on the West Irian precedent which has begun to emerge based on his detailed consultations with Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria. Its success is uncertain. You will see from the description of the detailed proposal that it contains three principal elements: (A) An announcement by Spain that it would withdraw from the Spanish Sahara by 1 February 1976; (B) a Moroccan announcement abandoning the march; and (C) the establishment of a temporary UN administration whose task would be to supervise the withdrawal and work out ways to consult the people of Spanish Sahara.

2. Waldheim says he has the agreement of both Spain and Algeria. And he is awaiting the reply of Morocco and Mauritania which he expects this evening. He believes that Morocco’s reaction will be influenced by two considerations: Whether Hassan has concluded that it is no longer possible to get a strictly bilateral deal with Spain, which Hassan prefers; and whether some formula regarding consulting the people can develop which the King can accept. Morocco’s initial reaction was cautious. If Laraki from his talks with the Spaniards yesterday concludes no bilateral deal is possible, Waldheim believes Hassan will be tempted by his approach. I urged that intensified efforts be continued since the date of the march was getting closer.

3. At present Waldheim has a special representative, a Frenchman named Andre Lewin, who is shuttling between the parties trying to firm up a formula acceptable to all concerned. One element of flexibility was Cortina’s suggestion that the Spanish Saharan people be represented in the UN administration for the temporary period involved. Waldheim had in mind that perhaps 6 to 12 members of the Spanish Saharan Assembly could be included.

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4. In connection with all of the above, he described, as he did with you, the highly emotional state of Boumediene who is strongly against a bilateral deal between Spain and Morocco. Boumediene asked Waldheim to convey a direct message to you that you should intervene with Hassan promptly and tell him to call off the march. Waldheim said that Boumediene used strong language. He quotes Boumediene as saying that Hassan is playing with fire and that the march must be stopped since Algeria cannot tolerate it. According to Waldheim Boumediene also added otherwise there will be a reaction in the Middle East as well. Waldheim expressed hope that you would be able to send some kind of a message to Boumediene which would confirm that Boumediene’s concerns had been conveyed to you and that we were taking them into account. While we cannot be responsive to Boumediene in ways he would consider adequate, I believe it is important that you send him a message if for no other reason than your close personal relations with him. I have discussed with Atherton the contents of such a message, and he will be drafting something for your consideration.

5. Following are the details of the Waldheim proposal. “Suggestions for compromise emerging from the consultations with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Spain

“1. Spain would unilaterally announce that it would withdraw from the territory by a specified date (the date mentioned was 1 February 1976). It would request the United Nations to assume responsibility for the decolonization of the Western Sahara as of that date and would declare that, pending its withdrawal, it would take no action to change the situation in the territory.

“2. In view of Spain’s undertaking to withdraw from the territory, Morocco would announce that it had decided to abandon the march. Morocco would also undertake not to take any action until the question had been discussed by the General Assembly.

“3. Both Morocco and Mauritania have cited Principle VI of General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV) which provides that one of the ways whereby a non-self-governing territory can be said to have reached a full measure of self-government is by integration with an independent state. However, according to Principle IX of that resolution, such integration should come about as the result of the freely expressed wishes of the people, their wishes having been expressed through informed and democratic processes.

“4. If the parties agree, the United Nations could set up a temporary administration in the Western Sahara with the following functions:

“(A) Supervise and assist the withdrawal of Spain;

“(B) Take over the administration of the territory;

“(C) Arrange for the return of refugees;

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“(D) Negotiate the arrangements for a consultation of the people, including notably; determination of the method of consultation; determination of the questions to be voted upon; the identification of Saharans belonging to the territory;

“(E) Establish conditions of calm and freedom of expression conducive to a free and informed expression of the wishes of the people;

“5. The Government of Spain would be prepared to cooperate fully in such a solution.”

  1. Summary: Sisco reported on his meeting with Waldheim regarding the Spanish Sahara. Waldheim’s proposal involved three principal elements: Spanish withdrawal from the region by February 1, 1976; Moroccan abandonment of the Green March; UN administration to supervise the withdrawal and consult the Sahrawis.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Agency File, Box 19, USUN, DOS to SOS Nodis 10/1–12/31/75. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.