44. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Algeria1

256242. Subject: Negotiating Western Sahara Conflict.

1. (S) Entire text.

2. After careful consideration of Western Sahara situation as reflected in your and other analyses,2 we have decided that you should seek appointment with highest available MFA official to make ASAP points below in para 3 on Western Sahara. It is important that conversation be held before Secretary sees Foreign Minister in New York on October 5.3 The underlying thrust of your meeting should be that the U.S. is considering its various policy options, not simply on arms but on all facets of the Saharan issue, and needs to understand the Algerian position fully. We want you to describe our evolving thinking and to probe the Algerians as to how far they would go to get the process started that could eventually lead to a negotiated settlement.

3. Following are talking points for use with Algerian Government:

A. As you know, the United States is reviewing its policies with respect to northwest Africa. In this connection we wish the views of the nations of the region. We attach particular importance to the views of Algeria.

B. Ever since Algeria became independent we have sought to maintain a balanced relationship between Morocco and Algeria, despite frequent tensions between the two countries. We consider our evolving relationship with Algeria important. At the same time, we have had a very good relationship with Morocco over the years.

C. The general peace and stability of the area is threatened by the Saharan conflict. The U.S. shares the view of many that an early solution [Page 117] is desirable. We do not wish to be centrally involved in these efforts, but attitudes toward a settlement are important to us as we consider our own policies toward the individual countries of the area.

D. While we remain openminded as regards the determination of the final status of the Saharan territories, we believe that no time should be lost in moving towards a negotiated resolution of the Saharan issue. Virtually everyone is in agreement that the continuing conflict is in no one’s long-term interest.

E. This bloody conflict could continue for a lengthy period, and the risks of wider conflict would continue to grow. Increasingly, we have come to the conclusion that the conflict will not repeat not be solved by military action alone. No side, including the Polisario, has the capacity to win a military victory.

F. Algeria has provided arms, sanctuary, and political support to the Polisario. In a real sense, therefore, Algeria is a party to the dispute and, in any case, has the means to influence the outcome of a negotiated solution through its relationship with the Polisario.

G. The U.S. has a deep interest in Morocco’s stability, its security, and its economic and social development. We intend to maintain a military supply relationship. In this connection we have sought to carry out a balanced policy of restraint.

H. This year’s heavy attacks by Polisario forces on Moroccan forces deep inside the sovereign borders of Morocco have changed the situation significantly. This has increased Moroccan concern that Algeria intends to use the Saharan conflict to topple the Hassan regime. While we have made no final decisions, we must take into account the fact that Morocco has every legitimate right to defend itself within its territories which are not repeat not in dispute.

I. We have not repeat not undertaken a mediatory role in this dispute, but we believe that third parties with an interest in resolving the conflict in a fair and equitable way should receive a sympathetic and cooperative response. To some degree France, Spain, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the OAU and certain African states have displayed interest in accelerating movements towards a negotiated settlement of the issue. We support these efforts in principle.

J. Virtually all such efforts started with a common premise: That Algeria and Morocco should meet at a high level. The Algerian response generally has been that Morocco should deal directly with the Polisario. For the purpose of determining our policy in the period ahead, we would like to know whether Algeria could consider a meeting with Morocco devoted exclusively to the issue of improved relationships between these two countries, but without excluding the possibility that representatives of the Polisario could be brought into the dialogue as it progresses.

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K. It would also be extremely helpful to us if we could understand precisely the Algerian position towards the regime of King Hassan. We have heard several descriptions of Algerian policy in this regard. One is that Algeria would prefer that Hassan continue to lead his country. Another variation, however, of this position is that Algeria believes that King Hassan is sure to leave the scene at some future point in any event and that Algeria is confident it will be able to deal effectively with any successor government.

L. We are posing these very serious questions to Algeria because we are concerned at the evolving pattern of developments which, if unchecked, could lead to instability and further tension in the region. This would be in the interest of no repeat no one who views responsibly the important position of this region in the world.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File D790445–0521. Secret; Immediate. Sent for information to Rabat. Drafted by Hester, Coon and Draper; cleared in S/P, NEA, T, and PM/SAS; approved by Newsom.
  2. In telegram 2527 from Algiers, September 17, Haynes submitted a lengthy review of U.S. policy in the Western Sahara. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790424–1087)
  3. In telegram 2722 from Algiers, October 4, Haynes expressed concern that he might not have an opportunity to meet with Bendjedid prior to Vance’s October 5 meeting with Benyahia (see Document 45). He reported that he had raised the talking points with several people in the Foreign Affairs Ministry on October 1: “At that time, I gave them the English text of the talking points as an aide memoire.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790455–0460) In telegram 2771 from Algiers, October 9, Haynes reported on his meeting with Bendjedid. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790499–0331)