64. Letter From President Carter to Algerian President Boumediene 1

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your letter of May 20.2 I attach great importance to our relations with Algeria and am glad for this opportunity to renew our dialogue. I was pleased too that Secretary Vance and Foreign Minister Bouteflika were able to have such a useful discussion, when the Minister delivered your letter.

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I completely understand your concern about events in the Sahara. The United States is in the fortunate position of enjoying good relations with all three governments involved in this question. While maintaining a position of neutrality ourselves, we will continue to urge our friends in each country to seek a peaceful settlement. I was encouraged to learn that there have been some discussions, and I earnestly hope these eventually will prove successful, for we would like to see peace restored in North Africa.

Beyond the Western Sahara conflict, I am deeply concerned about other areas of tension and conflict in Africa. Under my Administration, the United States has followed an African policy which has emphasized support for majority rule, substantially increased economic assistance, and the active pursuit of peaceful solutions to African disputes. Recent United States actions in Zaire were a specific and humanitarian response to the danger to civilians in Shaba Province resulting from the violation of Zaire’s border, and did not reflect any change in our African policy.

During their discussion, Secretary Vance and Foreign Minister Bouteflika had an opportunity to clarify our two Governments’ views on other African issues, as well as those problems which impede the search for a durable peace in the Middle East. Such exchanges are very helpful in our continuing efforts to expand communications between Algeria and the United States.

The United States and Algeria have many interests and perspectives in common. Foremost among these is the mutual recognition that conflict is in the interests of no nation in the long term, that peace is the foundation upon which the true prosperity and well-being of every nation is based, and that respect for the sovereign independence and territorial integrity of others is essential to preserve stability and harmony in relations among nations. Those are the principles upon which the United States has relied in dealing with you and your neighbors in the Maghreb in the past, and they will form the basis of our policy in the future. I hope to be in touch with you soon to propose specific dates for your visit to Washington.3


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 1, Algeria: President Houari Boumediene, 5/77–6/78. No classification marking.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 63.
  3. In a March 15 letter, Carter informed Boumediene that scheduling demands precluded a meeting in 1978. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 1, Algeria: 1–12/78) In telegram 82839 to Algiers, March 31, the Department authorized the Embassy to “make following oral points in presenting letter to Algerian Government. Number of other such visits are also being postponed. This postponement is not rpt not reflection on bilateral U.S.-Algerian relations, but is based on pressure of demands made on President’s time. We hope to reschedule the visit for some time after the end of this year.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780140–1067) Boumediene died before a visit could be scheduled.