161. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Summary of President’s Meeting with King Hassan


  • President Jimmy Carter
  • Hon. Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Hon. Harold Saunders, Assistant Secretary of State (NEA)
  • Hon. Richard Parker, Ambassador to Morocco
  • Mr. Hamilton Jordan, Assistant to the President
  • Mr. William Quandt, NSC Staff
  • Mr. Jerrold Schechter, NSC Staff
  • Mr. Alec Toumayan, Translator
  • H.R.H. King Hassan II, of Morocco
  • H.E. Mohamed Boucetta, Minister of State in Charge of Foreign Affairs
  • H.E. Ali Bengelloun, Morccan Ambassador to U.S.
  • H.E. Driss Slaoui, Director General, National Company for Investments
  • H.E. Abdelhadi Boutaleb, Minister of Information
  • H.E. Ahmed Reda Guedira, Counselor to King Hassan II
  • H.E. Ahmed Ben Lachen Dlimi, Director, Directorate of General Studies and Documentation
  • H.E. Moulay Hafid, Minister of the Royal Household

The President: The King and I met last night for about half an hour and we will have a few minutes at the end of our meeting here to talk privately as well.2 Last night we discussed the desirability of increased cultural exchange and in expanding the opportunity for students to study in the United States. We also want to increase American business investment in Morocco, and we understand the process of Moroccanization that is underway. We are eager to participate in mutually advantageous ways in expanding our trade relations. We hope to conclude a nuclear cooperation agreement. Your constructive leadership in the non-proliferation treaty and in non-proliferation policies is appreciated. I hope that any differences that prevent rapid progress can be removed during your visit.

King Hassan: When I take leave of you today, I want you to know how much I appreciate what I have seen and heard here. The President has twice praised our ancestors who brought our two countries closer together. I hope that these forty-eight hours that we have had together have measured up to the level of our past. Today we can multiply our relationship ten times over because of rapid means of communications.

Many observers of Morocco are surprised by our plans, both on the external and internal fronts. We seem to run in all directions. This is part of our historical legacy. It is no surprise that we have troops in Shaba. One thousand years ago our teachers were in the Sudan. We took medicine and science to Europe. Wherever we went, we never took things for ourselves, but we left elements of civilization behind. The President should know that our actions in the Middle East and in Africa are not exhibitionist, they are part of our history.

We never want to put our friends in an embarrassing situation. As long as we can go on alone, we will do so. When we can’t, we will call for help. Mr. Saunders came to see me last summer to ask what kind of assistance the United States could offer.3 I don’t downgrade material economic assistance, but the best form of aid is for the United States to say in each of its embassies throughout the world that the United States and Morocco are very close friends. This is the strongest form of aid and it hurts no one. It is an effective form of assistance.

Countries, of course, do not live by sentiments alone. Morocco has been passing through a difficult financial period. This is not because [Page 386] our economic prospects are poor. These are circumstantial problems, not fundamental ones. They go back to 1972. We were suffering from a certain restlessness, and we sent our troops to Golan and Sinai. When the October 1973 War took place, we left behind everything that we took. This meant that we had to redraw our plans for armaments. At the time, the prices were all right. But later prices went up by as much as five times. This left us with debts of one billion dollars with France, and a bit less with the United States. We have done everything possible to try to pay off all of our debts, and I believe the last installment is due to the United States at the end of the month.

At the Rabat Summit Conference in October 1974, several billion dollars were allocated to the countries that participated in the October War.4 I presided over the Conference as its host. Compensation was offered to me, but I turned it down, and I have remained consistent since then. The Saudis do help us, but less than you might expect. We should not have to knock on doors each time a problem arises. We need some mechanism to deal with these financial problems as they come along. The United States could help in economic cooperation.

There is a big project which is about to be concluded now with Westinghouse involving the extraction of uranium from phosphates. This could be a guarantee of Morocco’s future. Morocco has fifteen hundred years worth of reserves of phosphates. These may be turned into a source of energy which Morocco can export. We are also looking for oil and are hopeful to find some. We are oriented to developing medium-sized industries throughout the country. We have serious unemployment problems and we need to create jobs which do not entail excessive costs. We are also working in the agricultural sector. Each year our hydraulic plans produce one million new hectares of land. We are concentrating on intensive agriculture, and we are interested in agro-business projects. Morocco should not depend on the European market for food. But agro-business requires heavy capital investment. It is expensive. In this field, the United States leads the world. We are also making efforts at cattle raising in Morocco. We have worked with the King Ranch with considerable success. A market for our products already exists, for example in Spain. The capital can be found for our projects, but it takes thirty years to train the man to make the projects work. The scholarship funds that you have offered will help inject new blood. I hope that young Moroccans will learn initiative from America. I hope that they will learn about competitive [Page 387] ness and to use their imagination. It is all very well to create wealth, but we cannot hide it away. It must be put to good use.

General DeGaulle said that Morocco is one of the countries to be blessed by its location on both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean can now be seen as a closed sea. With the advent [of] supertankers, and the vulnerability of the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean has changed in significance. Morocco controls one of the openings to the Mediterranean. Morocco is also a link to black Africa, and therefore excites the greed of many countries. We have to defend what we have tenaciously. I therefore would like to outline to you a plan.

The President and I are of the same generation. I believe that we are both optimists. I believe that we should think of building a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar. This would be the salvation of Europe. Think of the possibilities of the exchange of raw materials from Africa to Europe. This could not be cut off by Soviet submarines. I once mentioned this to Franco, and some documents were prepared, but we were not able to pursue the idea. I was too far ahead of him in my thinking. But, you, Mr. President, run several miles every day. You can look forward and understand the importance of this project. It could be an inspiration to others. You and I could initiate this as we come to the end of this millenium.

I would like to talk about the security of Morocco. I do not want my country to be overarmed, but I want military hardware that is both reliable and suitable. I don’t want to preclude a U.S.-Moroccan military relationship. I hope that the President looked at the maps that I left yesterday.5 This part of Africa will be an increasingly heavy burden for the defense of the free world. Suppose Zaire falls. Then Sudan and Egypt will be vulnerable and Africa could be split in two. This would end the use of the Suez Canal. This could pose a direct threat to Saudi Arabia. The northern side of the Mediterranean is not so tranquil either. One-half of Italy is under Communist control. Look at Yugoslavia after Tito’s death. Turkey, a member of NATO, is a neighbor of Iran. My neighbors to the south, Libya and Algeria, are also shifting to red. I’ll be alone with France at the western end of the Mediterranean. Spain is not reliable. It cannot be counted on for now. The King of Spain does not want to use his powers. The majority in Spain is fearful. The left is in disarray. The most intelligent man in the country is Carrillo, the Secretary General of the Communist Party.

Morocco alone cannot fill the role of the advanced defense of the free world. I don’t need to go on further with you, Mr. President. I [Page 388] say this mostly to convince myself, not you. I know that you already understand these issues.

I have another idea for looking at the law of the sea in a new way. We should talk about the law of the right to the sea. This would be a new doctrine. We would provide some land-locked countries, such as Mali, Chad, and Niger, who have no lung to breathe, no effective communications, with access to the oceans. The international community could undertake to build railroads, and these could be multinational in ownership. They would provide oxygen to these countries. It would help them communicate. I am also convinced that the food needs of the future will come from the sea. We should not leave some countries without access to these resources. I think that the United States, guided by your philosophy, Mr. President, could start a project of this sort. This would win you a place of honor.

I’ll end with a biblical reflection. If I have sown good seeds, I am sure some of them will take root.

The President: This has been very interesting and instructive. You have clearly described the situation as it exists in your area. Our long-standing friendship has been strengthened by your visit. You and your sons have captivated my entire family.

I know the economic problems that exist, both in your country and in mine. We can’t always control prices. I understand the circumstances that lead to this, including the recent decline in prices for phosphate. But I am convinced of the basic strength of your country and of your policies and I know your future is bright. We both have great phosphate deposits and strong agricultural systems. To some extent this makes us trade competitors, but also puts us in a position to share our technology and our information. An important example is the Westinghouse project. We also have phosphates in Florida and we are doing some experiments there. We can share our information. Oil shale is another aspect of your future development, and your development of those resources can be rapid. It would be a good idea for us to send some of our business and government representatives to Morocco to explore more fully the investment opportunities and the projects in which we could cooperate. I will ask Secretary Vance to pursue this, if you do not object. Secretary Vance will meet with you tonight and will talk to you about this after consulting with our Secretary of Commerce.6

King Hassan: We have reached an advanced stage of talks with Occidental Petroleum. They have an idea of developing oil shale in place without pollution, and without requiring much water. There is some concern about these techniques in the United States and I would [Page 389] suggest that Mr. Hammer be encouraged to come to Morocco to work out these projects first. We are less worried than you are about pollution.

The President: You will be talking with Secretary Schlesinger this afternoon and you might raise this issue.7 There is also the question of a nuclear cooperation agreement. If there are no other joint issues now, perhaps we can spend a few minutes in private. (The President spent fifteen minutes with King Hassan alone.)8

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 33, Morocco 1978. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Cabinet Room.
  2. Carter and Hassan met on the afternoon of November 14 for a discussion on Iran. A memorandum of conversation is ibid. They also met privately that evening after the State dinner.
  3. See Document 230.
  4. The Arab League Summit, held at Rabat October 26–29, 1974, voted unanimously for the creation of an independent Palestinian state and recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. See also footnote 2, Document 223.
  5. Not found.
  6. See Document 163.
  7. No record of this meeting was found.
  8. No record of this private conversation was found.