The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

This statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This electronic-only volume is part of the subseries of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important foreign policy decisions and actions during the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. The advantage of this electronic-only method of presenting documentation is evident in this volume: the format enables convenient access to more key documentation on a broader range of [Page IV] issues. Annotation—the value-added element of documentary editing—is still present in limited form, but not to the scale of a printed Foreign Relations volume. The Office of the Historian is dedicated to publishing the great majority of the volumes in the Foreign Relations series in print form; these are also posted in electronic form on the Department of State’s website.

This volume documents U.S. relations with North Africa from 1973 to 1976, complementing several other volumes in the Foreign Relations series. Policy toward sub-Saharan Africa is covered in Volume E–6 Documents on Africa, 1973–1976, and policy toward Southern Africa is covered in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XXVIII, Southern Africa, 1969–1976.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume E–9, Part 1

The Maghreb presented opportunities and challenges for both the Nixon and Ford administrations, as they sought to broker settlements to conflicts in the Middle East and to limit Soviet exploitation of tensions in the region. Stability in the Maghreb was considered vital to achieving these goals, but proved increasingly difficult to attain due to Libya’s actions in the region and the destabilizing impact of Spain’s withdrawal from Spanish Sahara.

Documents on North Africa, 1973–1976, covers efforts by both administrations to re-establish diplomatic relations with Algeria, and provide support and reassurance to moderate Arab allies Morocco and Tunisia. It also covers the various attempts to manage relations with Libya’s Mu’ammar Qadhafi. Finally, the volume documents Secretary of State Kissinger’s efforts to de-escalate growing tensions among Spain, Morocco, and Algeria following Spain’s May 1975 announcement that it would transfer sovereignty of Spanish Sahara.

There are a limited number of documents covering bilateral relations with Algeria, which were severed in June 1967. Telegrams between Washington and the Interests Section in Algeria document the efforts that resulted in the resumption of diplomatic relations in November 1974. Additional correspondence and conversations with Algeria pertain to the Spanish Sahara and are found in that compilation.

The bilateral compilations on Morocco and Tunisia document U.S. efforts to provide continued support, largely through military assistance. Interagency memoranda along with telegrams to and from Rabat and Tunis show the strategies utilized by the Nixon and Ford administrations to fulfill these arms requests in the context of shrinking budgets. Memoranda of conversation between high-level Moroccan and Tunisian officials with President Ford, Henry Kissinger, and De [Page V] fense officials emphasize the central role these countries played in the administration’s overarching goal for stability in the region. They also detail Moroccan and Tunisian concerns over the perceived regional threat posed by Libya and Algeria. Finally, memoranda and telegrams to and from Rabat document interagency discussions regarding the disposition of U.S. bases in Morocco.

Libya presented both administrations with increasingly intractable problems. Libyan attacks on U.S. planes flying over international waters led to a series of high-level meetings, documented in meeting minutes, memoranda, and interagency communications. Memoranda between the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency reflect concerns over the inadequacy of U.S. policy toward Libya developed in 1970, resulting in a new study, a Senior Review Group meeting, and a follow-on options paper (Documents 21, 22, and 25). Deteriorating relations between Egypt and Libya, and calls from Sadat for assistance to “deal with Qadhafi,” are documented in memoranda and telegrams to and from Cairo. There was also growing concern over the threat Qadhafi posed to the internal security of many of Libya’s Arab and African neighbors, illustrated in interagency memoranda and reports. Efforts to manage the growing diplomatic rift between Tripoli and Washington, and avoid a break in diplomatic relations are presented in telegrams and interagency memoranda.

The Spanish Sahara was another source of instability in the Maghreb. The path to sovereignty was fraught with tensions as Morocco, Mauritania and the Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, jockeyed for control of the territory. Cognizant of Morocco’s strategic importance, Kissinger nevertheless needed to diffuse the situation while maintaining U.S. neutrality on the issue. Memoranda of conversation between Kissinger, Cortina, Hassan, and Boumediene reflect the significance of the region to overall policy. Kissinger’s diplomatic efforts surrounding the announcement of Hassan’s Green March, often conducted through cabled messages, sought to avoid conflict between Morocco and Algeria, but largely ignored Mauritania and the Polisario Front. Several intelligence reports examine the future of the Spanish Sahara and the potential for continued conflict, while cables transmit proposed strategies and guidance. Despite the efforts of Kissinger and others, instability in the region continued and the threat of conflict between Morocco and Algeria over the Spanish Sahara (renamed Western Sahara in 1976) remained a source of concern throughout the remainder of the Ford administration.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversations are placed according to the date and time of the conversation, rather than the date a memorandum [Page VI] was drafted. Documents chosen for printing are authoritative or signed copies, unless otherwise noted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the Chief of the Editing and Publishing Division. The documents are reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents within the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume. In telegrams, the telegram number (including special designators such as Secto) is printed at the start of the text of the telegram.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed with headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original text are so identified in footnotes. All ellipses are in the original documents.

The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provided the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used where appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

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Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Staff are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and other applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security, as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed [Page VIII] concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2007 and was completed in 2014, resulted in the decision to withhold 3 documents in full, excise a paragraph or more in 5 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 16 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the documentation and editorial notes presented here provide a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of the policy of the Nixon and Ford administrations toward North Africa.


The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the staff at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland, and Melissa Heddon at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum at Yorba Linda, California. The editor also wishes to thank Geir Gunderson, Donna Lehman, and Helmi Raaska at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan for their expertise and assistance. The editor would like to acknowledge the Historical Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, who arranged access to Agency Files, and to John Haynes of the Library of Congress, who was responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers. The editor was able to use the Kissinger Papers with the permission of Henry Kissinger. The editor would like to thank the staff in the Manuscript Reading Room at the Library of Congress for their assistance, and Sandy Meagher for her assistance in expediting the use of files of the Department of Defense.

Myra F. Burton collected, selected, and annotated the documentation for this Foreign Relations volume. The volume was completed under the supervision of Edward C. Keefer, former General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman, former Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division, and Carl Ashley, Chief of the Declassification Division. Thomas I. Faith performed the copy and technical editing.

Stephen P. Randolph, Ph.D.
The Historian

Adam M. Howard, Ph.D.
General Editor

Bureau of Public Affairs
September 2014