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05ALGIERS1542 2005-07-24 13:56:00 SECRET Embassy Algiers
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1. (C) Charge delivered ref (a) points confirming that the
USG has no intention at this time of designating the
Polisario as a terrorist organization to Presidential Chief
of Staff Larbi Belkheir July 23. Noting that U.S. policy
toward the Polisario remained unchanged, Charge also stressed
our request for Algerian assistance in reinforcing the need
for the Polisario to refrain from statements or actions that
provoked Morocco.

2. (C) Belkheir expressed appreciation for the confirmation
of U.S. policy. He said the Polisario had never been a
terrorist organization, but was a movement for national
liberation. It was true that Polisario officials from time
to time threatened to resume "armed struggle" against
Morocco, but it was important to understand the great
pressure they were under due to the prolonged diplomatic
stalemate since Baker's resignation and the difficult living
conditions in Tindouf. It was essential, he said, that
"Morocco budge too" or the situation could deteriorate.
Charge reiterated that Algeria should discourage Polisario
from provoking Morocco.

3. (C) Turning to Algerian relations with Morocco, Belkheir
said Algeria wanted better relations with Morocco, which
Charge agreed was U.S. policy as well. Algeria supported the
UN's efforts to resolve the Western Sahara dispute, most
recently by signalling its acceptance of Kofi Annan's
proposed candidate for a new Special Envoy, although Belkheir
said he was not sure what the Moroccan position was.
Algeria's view was that efforts to settle the Western Sahara
should be handled in a UN context; other than the Western
Sahara, there was no reason that Moroccan-Algerian relations
could not improve across the board. "Better bilateral
relations are even more in Morocco's interest than they are
in ours," Belkheir commented. Charge responded that they
were in both countries' interest, especially since regional
cooperation continued to founder on the obstacle of
Moroccan-Algerian mutual suspicions.

4. (S) Belkheir assured Charge that Algeria was "committed
to Morocco's stability and security." Morocco, he said,
should pay greater attention to the Islamist terrorist
networks that had developed on its territory and that were in
turn linked to networks in Europe. Algeria had considerable
expertise in this area that it was willing to share with the
Moroccans if the Moroccans would engage the Algerians.

5. (S) Comment: While we defer to Embassy Rabat as to the
extent to which Morocco may be willing to engage in
counterterrorism exchanges given existing tensions between
the two countries, from an Algiers perspective we believe
Belkheir's offer provides a genuine opportunity to improve
counterterrorism cooperation, which could in turn help create
a new political opening.