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

306028. Subject: Secretary’s Meeting With Moroccan Ambassador.

1. Bengelloun’s principal interest in brief meeting December 22 prior departure on consultations was in underlining his government’s desire for a U.S. response to its arms request.2 He said Morocco counts on U.S. to help it maintain regional equilibrium which now upset by Algerian acquisition of Soviet weapons both directly from Soviets and via Libyans. He mentioned in this context current visit to Tripoli and Algiers of Soviet Chief of Staff. Moroccans are peaceful, Bengelloun insisted, and want U.S. arms only to defend their national territory. Moroccans not concerned by situation in Mauritania where French are helping, but they are worried about their vulnerability in the north, near Oujda and the Mediterranean. Algerians are unhappy with King’s position on Middle East and have been attacking him. Moroccans are worried about what Boumediene might do. Bengelloun contrasted Morocco’s constructive geopolitical and Middle East policies with those of Algeria and noted greater similarity between Moroccan and Ameri [Page 368] can free political structures than between those of Algeria and U.S. Stating that Boumediene about to visit Arab capitals to encourage resistance to Sadat, Ambassador concluded that U.S. knows where its friends are.

2. In responding, Secretary said U.S. in process of making final decisions on Moroccan request and other military assistance questions. U.S. is sensitive to Moroccan needs and sees Morocco playing a constructive geopolitical role. Secretary cited President’s reference in meeting with Prime Minister Osman to the importance of bilateral relations over and above geopolitical concerns.3 Asked by Bengelloun if it would be possible to make a final decision on the Moroccan arms list prior to the President’s departure on December 29,4 Secretary said he doubted it would be. However, he looked forward to seeing Bengelloun again when both return to Washington. Bengelloun expressed desire discuss legal aspects of Moroccan position. Secretary responded he would welcome opportunity for such an exchange as there are elements he does not fully understand.

3. On Polisario hostages, Bengelloun said UNSYG Waldheim had not realized Boumediene had provoked a domestic political dispute in France by allowing French Communist Party Chief Marchais to announce prospective release. According to Bengelloun, Waldheim appreciates Moroccan opposition to his involvement but feels he must fulfill his commitment.

4. Bengelloun asked if Secretary had any special message to convey to King on Middle East which might update whatever was discussed between King and Ambassador Anderson December 20.5 Secretary replied that he expects meeting on Sunday to make progress but it is unreasonable to believe, as some people do, that Sadat and Begin will resolve all issues in one meeting.6 Secretary said he knows Begin is going to Egypt in a reasonable frame of mind, and he believes Sadat also will be reasonable. He expects the meeting will continue the momentum of the peace process.

5. Ambassador expressed King Hassan’s best wishes for Under Secretary Habib’s recovery. Secretary voiced his appreciation and informed Bengelloun that Habib has been taken off critical list.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 69, Morocco: 7/77–2/78. Confidential; Priority; Exdis. Sent for information to Algiers, Nouakchott, Paris, Madrid, and USUN. Printed from a copy that was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Bishop; cleared by Sober; approved by Tarnoff. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770478–1129)
  2. In telegram 223262 to Rabat, September 16, the Department summarized Vance’s September 13 meeting with Laraki, during which Laraki presented the Moroccan request. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840070–0320, P800020–1617) For the Moroccan list, see Attachment 3 to Document 222.
  3. See Document 151.
  4. Carter traveled to Warsaw on December 29 for an official visit.
  5. Anderson reported on his meeting with the King in telegram 6965 from Rabat, December 22. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840076–1294)
  6. Begin and Sadat met at Ismailia on Sunday, December 25.