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05ALGIERS1211 2005-06-15 09:43:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Algiers
Cable title:  

SPANISH AMBASSADOR ON WESTERN SAHARA

Tags:   PREL PBTS AG MO WI 
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1. (C) Spanish Ambassador Lena called on Ambassador June 13
to offer GOS views on the need to calm tensions in the region
and brief on Spanish State Minister for External Relations
Leon's June trip to the region. Lena also shared a copy of
Spanish FM Moratinos' letter to Algerian FM Bedjaoui.
Moratinos called for revitalization of the Western Sahara
process; positive steps and confidence-building measures
toward reconciliation; a MINURSO report on recent events; the
right to political expression; adopting humanitarian
gestures; the naming of new Personal and Special U.N. Envoys;
and enhanced regional integration through the Arab Maghreb
Union. Ambassador said we were also concerned about recent
negative developments in the region and had demarched both
Algiers and Rabat to underscore our concerns and encourage
Algeria and Morocco to focus on bilateral rapprochement and
strengthened regional cooperation. Ambassador also explained
U.S. views on a new Personal Envoy, noting it would be
premature to consider such a step absent clear indications
the parties were prepared to be more flexible regarding the
Envoy's mandate. (End Summary.)

SPAIN URGING REDUCED TENSIONS


--------------------------





2. (C) Spanish Ambassador to Algeria Juan Lena called on
Ambassador June 13 to provide the GOS perspective on the
Western Sahara and report on the recent trip to the region of
Spanish State Minister for External Relations Bernardino
Leon. PolEcon Chief and Econoff attended the meeting. Lena
also provided Ambassador with a Spanish-language copy of the
letter from Spanish FM Moratinos to Algerian FM Bedjaoui.
(See paragraph 5: copy faxed to NEA/MAG.)



3. (C) Noting that the Western Sahara was an especially
important political issue in Spain, Lena said State Secretary
Leon had undertaken his mission with the intent of calming
tensions in the region. Leon made clear that maintaining the
status quo was unacceptable and that violence had to stop.
Spain called on all parties to calm tensions and had
specifically cautioned the Polisario that threats of renewed
violence were unhelpful. Noting Madrid's belief that Algeria
had not played a role in fomenting recent Sahrawi unrest,
Lena said Leon had urged Rabat to restrain Moroccan police
and security personnel who confronted the Sahrawis.
Commenting on recent press reports that a Spanish delegation
to the Western Sahara had been denied permission to enter
through Morocco, Lena clarified that a group of Catalan
legislators had been refused but that Morocco has given a
national parliamentary delegation permission to visit without
any restrictions on its contacts. This was a positive
signal, he commented.



4. (C) The GOS hoped MINURSO would make a report on recent
events in the Western Sahara, including the violence in May.
Spain believed UNSYG Special Envoy De Soto should be replaced
as soon as possible and that the Friends Group at the U.N. in
New York should be activated. Morocco, based on Leon's
discussions in Rabat, sought a political settlement at the
U.N. before autonomy could be considered for the Sahrawis.
Spain, continued Lena, did not believe the Western Sahara
should prevent Morocco and Algeria from pursuing
reconciliation. As for Leon's meetings with Algerian FM
Bedjaoui, the Algerian Minister, said Lena, was firm on the
need for Sahrawi self-determination and expressed
disappointment that Morocco had not accepted the Baker Plan
as the best possible resolution of the dispute.

MORATINOS' LETTER URGES RAPPROCHEMENT,
TRANSPARENCY, AND NEW PERSONAL ENVOY


--------------------------





5. (C) Lena said Leon's conversation clearly paralleled the
points in Maratinos' June 9 letter. Specifically, Moratinos:


-- Called for revitalization of the Western Sahara process.


-- Urged constructive actions on the part of the parties,
who should avoid unilateral steps and take
confidence-building measures toward reconciliation.

-- Called on MINURSO to prepare a report on recent events.

-- Said that rights of political expression in the Western
Sahara should be guaranteed.


-- Encouraged humanitarian gestures.


-- Urged the naming of two new U.N. Envoys, Personal (vice
Baker) and Special (vice De Soto).


-- Expressed support for regional integration and
strengthened ties through the Arab Maghreb Union.




6. (C) Ambassador responded by noting that we shared many of
Spain's concerns and that he and his counterpart in Rabat had
been instructed to convey these concerns about recent
negative developments to both Algiers and Rabat. The thrust
of our message, Ambassador explained, was the need for both
capitals to act with restraint, pursue bilateral
rapprochement, and improve regional cooperation via the Arab
Maghreb Union. We had also made known to the GOA and the
Polisario that Polisario threats and renewed armed struggle
were unacceptable and counterproductive. In this regard, the
decisions to proceed with the planned June 22 heads of
government meetings in Rabat, other gestures the two sides
were making, and the recent softening of Polisario rhetoric
on armed struggle were positive signs. Reported agreement to
increase airline flights between Morocco and Algeria and
efforts to reschedule the Maghreb Summit were also positive
developments.



7. (C) On Spain's desire for the naming of a new Personal
Envoy, Ambassador reviewed U.S. thinking as to why such a
move would be premature and unhelpful. Absent signs of
flexibility from Algeria and Morocco, the naming of a
Personal Envoy would lead to an immediate impasse over the
Envoy's mandate, thus setting back rapprochement efforts.

ERDMAN