150. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Morocco1

86333. Subject: Conversation Between Secretary Vance and Moroccan Ambassador.

1. Secretary Vance met with departing Moroccan Ambassador Abdelhadi Boutaleb Friday, April 15, at 3:00 p.m. Also present was Assistant Secretary Atherton. Conversation dealt with four subjects: Zaire, Southern Africa, Western Sahara and Middle East.

2. Zaire: Boutaleb stated Moroccan forces in Zaire in response to Zairian appeal addressed to Morocco and other countries to uphold principle of territorial integrity. Morocco intervened in part because appeal was made directly by Zaire Foreign Minister, but principally because it was also addressed through OAU and it was through OAU that GOM decided to respond. Other African countries, including Egypt and Sudan, are considering providing assistance. Morocco was pleased to note April 15 statement of acting OAU President expressing support for Zaire position and approval of aid given Kinshasa government by other African countries. Morocco sees Katangan invasion of Zaire developing within framework built by African tours of Soviet President Podgorny and Cuban Premier Castro. Latter also visited Algeria twice before going on to East Germany and Moscow, and GOM perceives certain parallels between Soviet and Cuban backing of invasion of Zaire and troubles in Sahara. Morocco understands reasons why U.S. does not wish insert itself directly into Zaire conflict and feels that Moroccan intervention in Zaire, in support of ideals shared with U.S. and in keeping with Moroccan duty as African state, entitles Morocco to expect and demand more American support and understanding.2 Therefore, irresponsible and sometimes even responsible American voices justifying Soviet and Cuban intervention in Africa hard to understand.3

3. Secretary Vance replied that Moroccan action in Zaire is an example of African cooperation and may serve as catalyst for stability [Page 361] helping to ensure success of attempts to negotiate solution. In terms of Soviet and Cuban actions, Secretary noted he has spoken to Russians several times, as recently as April 15, on dangers of intervention in Africa. U.S. urged Russians, their friends and colleagues, to avoid expanding scope of problem. Believe substance and import of message was understood but we will be watching carefully for results.

4. Southern Africa: Secretary volunteered background on current Owen Mission noting it stems from prior U.S.–U.K. agreement to attempt to convene a constitutional conference which would include all nationalist leaders, Front Line African states, Rhodesia and South Africa. U.S. would participate as co-convener if other parties so desired. Should constitutional conference succeed, British Parliament would then pass enabling legislation to be followed by three to six month transitional period, under rule of a British Governor General with order secured by Commonwealth troups, during which time preparation would be made for a referendum. U.S. direct involvement stems from concern that only broad positive action could head off renewal of fighting which would provide greater opportunities for Soviet penetration and radicalization of region.

5. Ambassador Boutaleb described U.S. actions as timely and assured Secretary that Morocco will consistently support all U.S. initiatives for peace in Africa and Middle East.

6. Western Sahara: Boutaleb described Moroccan activity in Sahara as prompted by concerns for territorial integrity, peace and stability, and contrasted Moroccan intentions in conflict with destabilizing designs of “our antagonist”. Boutaleb noted that Moroccan portion of Sahara entirely under control, which prompts Algerians to attack weaker Mauritania. He also commented that Moroccan Sahara policy enjoys support of most of Arab League and OAU except for those countries which side with external forces for instability in Africa. Boutaleb expressed appreciation for past U.S. understanding and support, particularly our favorable vote in 1975 UNGA.4 He noted that Morocco has often voted in support of U.S. interests. Morocco regards Sahara issue as closed, but looks forward to receiving support and understanding, especially from U.S., should necessity arise.

7. Referring to irresponsible statements by Americans on foreign policy matters, Moroccan Ambassador noted remarks by delegation of Black Americans in Algeria which met with Polisario leaders and made statement accusing Morocco of genocide in the Sahara. Boutaleb, [Page 362] slightly agitated, described delegation statement as incoherent and ignorant.

8. Secretary stated delegation has no connection with USG and was not reflecting U.S. national policy. Boutaleb agreed with Secretary’s statement that, as few Americans likely ever to have heard of delegation or its spokesperson, less said about the incident the better.

9. Regarding Sahara, Secretary noted U.S. understanding of situation and sympathetic consideration of Moroccan standpoint while reaffirming that U.S. remains neutral on substance of issue. Secretary requested Moroccans keep us informed of future developments.5

10. On Middle East Boutaleb described Moroccan position as consistently moderate and counseling moderation with other Chiefs of State and with PLO. Morocco has encouraged parties to accept Resolutions 242 and 3386 and strongly supports all U.S. efforts to achieve just and lasting peace in the Middle East in interest of all concerned. Morocco does not recognize right to acquire territory by force, but if states concerned should decide to cede some portion of their territory, Morocco would not object.7 Morocco does not shirk its duties as Arab state; King Hassan has wide audience among Arab leaders and is more than willing to make his contacts and best efforts available to aid U.S. peace initiatives as he did in past. King would be prepared help with PLO (Boutaleb repeated this offer three times). In response to question from Secretary, Boutaleb stated that Geneva Conference must be well prepared in advance in order to succeed and that present comings and goings of area leaders represent, in effect, beginning of the Geneva Conference. When it meets, conference should simply ratify agreements reached previously.8 Key to success is prior agreement to some form of simultaneous recognition by Israelis and PLO. On possibility of referendum in West Bank raised by Secretary, Boutaleb stated that it would be inconsistent with Moroccan policy elsewhere to support referendums when they conflict with principle of territorial integrity.9

11. Secretary Vance expressed appreciation for Moroccan support for U.S. peace efforts and noted President Carter’s commitment to bring concerned parties together in 1977. Secretary described meetings in U.S. with involved heads of state as useful and expressed hope for [Page 363] renewed movement toward Geneva after Israeli elections, but described remaining differences between parties as broad and deep despite some signs of narrowing. He noted that U.S. will keep Hassan’s offer of assistance very much in mind.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 69, Morocco: 1–6/77. Secret; Immediate, Exdis. Sent for information to Tel Aviv, Algiers, Amman, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, Kinshasa, Lagos, London, Moscow, Nouakchott, Paris, Pretoria, and USUN. Printed from a copy that was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted in NEA/AFN; cleared by Tarnoff and Twaddell; approved by Atherton. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770133–0674)
  2. An unknown hand placed a checkmark in the right-hand margin next to this sentence.
  3. An unknown hand highlighted and placed a checkmark next to this sentence.
  4. Reference is to UNGA Resolution 3458B, adopted on December 10, 1975, which supported the Morocco Accords, the tripartite agreement between Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania, and the right of the Saharan people to self-determination. For text of the resolution, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1975, pp. 189–190.
  5. An unknown hand placed a checkmark next to this sentence.
  6. See footnote 3, Document 59.
  7. An unknown hand wrote in the right-hand margin next to this sentence: “What about Sahara?”
  8. An unknown hand underlined “Geneva Conference” and “should simply ratify agreements reached previously,” and placed a checkmark next to this sentence.
  9. An unknown hand underlined “referendum” and the last sentence of this paragraph.