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

291469. Subject: Secretary’s Meeting with King Hassan: Western Sahara.

1. During Secretary’s November 14 call on King Hassan at Blair House discussion turned to Western Sahara after exchange on Middle East reported septel.2 Hassan initiated this portion of the conversation with invitation to Secretary to give a lawyer’s distinction between administrative control and sovereignty. Secretary replied that in law the two terms are defined differently. Commenting that as a friend and a fellow lawyer who welcomed an exchange more frank than that which might occur between heads of state, Hassan added that he expected there would be some differences of legal opinion, as Secretary was of the Anglo-Saxon school of law while he was of the Mediterranean school.

2. Continuing to respond to Hassan’s original request, Secretary said administrative control could be accorded without sovereignty being acquired, and he cited example of U.S. trusteeship in Micronesia. Hassan replied that Spain was able to give Morocco only the powers Spain held. Spain had not given Morocco sovereignty in the Sahara because Spain did not have sovereignty. Therefore sovereignty must have resided elsewhere. In fact, sovereignty resided with Morocco. King then made comparison with Morocco’s experience under the protectorate, when the French Resident General functioned as the Sultan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The French were permitted by treaty to undertake administrative reforms but not to undertake structural reforms. When Morocco signed its treaty of independence with France, Morocco did not recover sovereignty, it recovered administrative control.

3. Turning from the legal discussion, Hassan commented that there must be some sovereignty in the area. The Western world had three choices: Moroccan sovereignty; that of 35,000 Saharans as a first step to something else; and an Algerian Marxist state. Morocco is not asking [Page 576] the U.S. to engage in war in the Sahara, Hassan continued. Eighteen million Moroccans now, and forty million by 2000, will consider the Sahara Moroccan. On the other side are 3,000 agitators driven by Algeria to demand a republic. Stating this is not really a problem for him, Hassan explained that he did not want his friends to appear embarrassed when they help him. When U.S. diplomats speak of Morocco’s rights he would like to see them talk about Morocco’s rights without questioning whether or not they exist.

4. At this point the Secretary had to leave the room to receive a telephone call from the President. While he was absent, Hassan was informed that Boumediene had left Moscow and reportedly returned to Algeria. He commented that he still thought Boumediene “finished”. When the Secretary returned, he informed the King the President had asked him to come immediately to the White House. It was agreed that the Secretary and Hassan would resume their discussion of the Sahara the following day.3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 69, Morocco: 7/78–8/80. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Sent for information to Algiers, Nouakchott, Madrid, and Paris. Printed from a copy that was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Bishop; cleared in NEA/AFN and AF/W; approved by Saunders. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780473–0262)
  2. Telegram 291489 to Rabat, November 17. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840139–1866)
  3. See Documents 162 and 163.