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06RABAT497 2006-03-20 19:22:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rabat
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1. (C) Summary: Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs
Taieb Fassi Fihri told Ambassador Riley March 20 that he and
Moroccan Amb. to the UN (and until recently Interior
Minister) Moustapha Sahel proposed to travel to Washington
this week or early next to brief U.S. officials informally on
King Mohammed,s autonomy proposal for the Western Sahara,
other initiatives the King plans to take regarding the
Western Sahara (including greater democratization,
"generational change" and identifying human resources for the
future), how Morocco sees the process leading toward autonomy
moving forward, and how Algeria,s position is impacting the
process. Fassi Fihri intends to seek informal reaction from
the U.S. to Morocco,s proposals, and hopes to have a common
approach with the U.S. toward the UNSC consultation and
MINURSO renewal in late April. Fassi Fihri and Sahel would
like to call on A/S Welch, Deputy Secretary Zoellick, and the
NSC. Ambassador Riley emphasized that Washington would be
interested in a serious autonomy proposal, and that focusing
on perceived Algerian objectives would diminish the impact of
Moroccan proposals. End summary.

2. (C) Ambassador Riley met with Minister-Delegate for
Foreign Affairs Taieb Fassi Fihri on March 20 at Fassi
Fihri,s request. Morocco,s Ambassador to the UN Moustapha
Sahel, until recently Minister of Interior, was present for
the meeting, and Royal Advisor Mohamed Moatassim arrived
during the course of the meeting, apparently for separate
discussions with Fassi Fihri and Sahel concerning the rollout
of Morocco,s autonomy proposal for the Western Sahara. The
DCM accompanied the Ambassador. The Western Sahara
discussion immediately followed a meeting with Fassi Fihri
and Minister of Communications Benabdallah concerning MEPI
support for Moroccan media (septel).

3. (C) The meeting began with Fassi Fihri and Sahel
present. Fassi Fihri said that he wanted to discuss both
King Mohammed,s visit to Laayoune, the consultations the GOM
has held with political parties and other representatives of
the local population on the Western Sahara, and the vision of
the "team," which includes Fassi Fihri, Sahel, the King,s
confidante and deputy interior minister Fouad Ali Himma,
members of the royal cabinet, and others.

4. (C) Fassi Fihri said that Sahel had returned from New
York after an initial round of consultations at the request
of King Mohammed VI. He pointed out that the UN Security
Council had reflected for two years - since James Baker,s
resignation as Personal Envoy of the Secretary General -
about how to reach a political solution. Morocco had now
developed its proposals, and the King had requested that
Sahel and Fassi Fihri travel to Washington to brief the State
Department and NSC on the results of Morocco,s own
reflection and the King,s vision for the Western Sahara. He
said that the King,s commitment to autonomy is clear, but he
wanted to discuss in Washington how the process to achieve
autonomy can be a "100 percent success" based upon
consultation with Morocco,s political parties.

5. (C) Fassi Fihri pointed out that the King had
insisted on consultation with the local population and
locally elected officials, in addition to the political
parties, in formulating Morocco,s autonomy proposal. It was
important now for Morocco to work closely with the U.S. and
others in the run-up to Security Council consideration of the
Western Sahara and MINURSO mandate renewal at the end of
April. He hoped Morocco could have a common goal with the
U.S. concerning the UNSC resolution. He said that the King
will undertake various initiatives during his visit to the
Western Sahara this week related to democratization,
"generational change," and identifying human resources for
the future.

6. (C) The GOM intends to share its proposals informally
in only two capitals (Washington and Paris) and possibly a
third (London), Fassi Fihri said. The GOM hopes for a
confidential consultation in order to obtain Washington,s

opinion on its proposals, which Fassi Fihri and Sahel would
relay to the King. Fassi Fihri said that he and Sahel would
also like to share with Washington confidential information

about Algeria,s position, and share the GOM,s analysis of
Algeria,s role. (Comment: Fassi Fihri was joined at this
stage of the meeting by Moatassim arriving from the palace,
and Fassi Fihri's comments appeared to become more
circumspect. End comment.) Fassi Fihri observed that the
consultations held recently with political parties had been
helpful. The (Islamic) Party for Justice and Development
(PJD), for instance, had become more enthusiastic about
autonomy following their conference on the subject (reftel),
and the position of the National Democratic Party (PND) had
also become more positive.

7. (C) Ambassador Riley replied that the U.S.
understands Morocco,s view that the process leading to
autonomy should be a proposal by Morocco leading to a
negotiation, and that Morocco,s opening proposal will not
necessarily represent its bottom line. Nevertheless, the
Ambassador said, Washington interlocutors will be much more
interested in hearing about a serious and positive autonomy
proposal than about Morocco,s views of Algerian objectives.
Focusing on perceived Algerian objectives would diminish the
impact of the presentation in Washington.

8. (C) Fassi Fihri emphasized that the GOM has a serious
and positive dialogue with Algeria via Algeria,s Ambassador
to Morocco. He said Morocco must feed "all the inputs into
our program, but our demarche is positive." The main issue,
Fassi Fihri said, is autonomy, in which the King is totally
involved and to which he is totally committed. Fassi Fihri
said that the visit to Washington would be in the vein of
friendly consultations. The DCM observed that it would be
much easier for U.S. officials to react to the GOM
presentation if information on Morocco,s proposals is
provided in advance. Fassi Fihri said that the presentation
needed to be a dialogue. He recognized that it would not be
possible for his counterparts to react immediately, but if
necessary he and Sahel could remain in Washington for several
days to allow U.S. officials time to digest their
presentation and provide feedback.
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