|06ALGIERS392||2006-03-07 13:52:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Algiers|
1. (C) During a March 5 meeting with Ambassador and DCM
covering a range of issues, Foreign Minister Bedjaoui raised
the Western Sahara, asking Ambassador for U.S. views about
Morocco's anticipated autonomy proposal. Ambassador noted
that the U.S. has been encouraging Morocco to develop its
ideas on autonomy and to move forward with presenting its
plan as a basis for negotiations. Ambassador commented that
since independence was anathema to Morocco and the Polisario
rejected integration, automony represented the only potential
POLISARIO "TIRED," MAY BE READY TO
2. (C) Bedjaoui observed that twenty years ago, the U.S. had
floated the idea of Western Sahara autonomy based on the
model of Puerto Rico. King Hassan II, he said, had shown
interest, but insisted on preserving the "external trappings"
of Moroccan sovereignty such as the flag, stamps, and
currency, and the idea had died. Bedjaoui stressed that
Morocco needed to talk directly to the Polisario. The
Polisario leadership was "tired" and may be ready to discuss
a serious Moroccan offer. Bedjaoui asked why Morocco
appeared focused on taking its autonomy plan to the Security
Council, when what was needed was direct talks with Polisario.
SENDING MOROCCAN SECRET EMISSARIES?
3. (C) Ambassador said the U.S. was encouraging Morocco to
engage the Polisario directly. Bedjaoui said there were no
bilateral problems between Morocco and Algeria other than how
to find a solution to the Western Sahara. Returning to the
historical record, Bedjaoui recalled that toward the end of
the Algerian independence war, De Gaulle had sent secret
emissaries to negotiate with the Algerians while publicly
maintaining a tough posture. Morocco, he suggested, could do
the same with the Polisario. Such talks could be held out of
the spotlight in Geneva, New York, or elsewhere.
4. (C) We were struck by Bedjaoui's description of the
Polisario leadership as "tired" and interested in engaging
Morocco directly, a comment that the Algerians have not made
quite so bluntly before. While Algeria will continue to
insist it is not a direct party to the conflict and to reject
the idea of negotiating with Morocco on the Sahrawis' behalf,
Algeria is signalling its readiness to play a constructive
supporting role once Morocco and the Polisario engage.