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Cablegate: Rabat Pol Counselors Informal Discuss Western

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRB #0494/01 0780849
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 190849Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6099
INFO RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS IMMEDIATE 4356
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN IMMEDIATE 0645
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 3246
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID IMMEDIATE 5668
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT IMMEDIATE 3445
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE 4565
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0676

C O N F I D E N T I A L RABAT 000494

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/17/2016
TAGS: PBTS PHUM PGOV MO FR GE SP
SUBJECT: RABAT POL COUNSELORS INFORMAL DISCUSS WESTERN
SAHARA


Classified By: Classified by Polcouns Craig Karp for reasons 1.4 (b) an
d (d)

1. (C) Spain hosted Polcounselors from U.S., U.K., France and
EU-President Germany for an informal discussion of Western
Sahara developments March 14. In general, participants noted
the intensity of Moroccan diplomatic efforts, including
multiple consultations with U.S., France, and Spain. The
energy of the initiative, however, did not appear to be
matched by any apparent breakthrough on the substance of
autonomy that could convince the other side. The broad
outlines of the autonomy plan, which have been universally
briefed, suggested Rabat would retain full control, and did
not go far beyond what was in the 2003 plan. That had been
rejected out of hand by Baker and governments.

2. (C) The French continue to broadly support the Moroccan
position. They believe that the GOM effort should be
encouraged by the UNSC by some explicit mention and also
support encouraging the parties to negotiate. After some
informal discussions with Van Walsum, the French were
concerned that SYG Ban Ki Moon will be very conservative on
his report to the Council. It will be his first and he will
likely want to keep the text of the last report. The French
continue to insist on self-determination, but the act of
self-determination can be an institutional arrangement that
is endorsed by a vote that comes way down the line. They
were to have formal discussions with Van Walsum in Paris this
week

3. (C) The Germans will try to forge a common European
position but are not confident of doing so. For Europe as a
whole, the principal interest is that Morocco has been an
island of stability in a crucial but shaky near neighborhood.
This stability must be preserved, so a solution to the
Sahara problem that destabilizes Morocco proper is
undesirable.

4. (C) The Spanish host was not happy. For Spain, the Sahara
is now a hot domestic political issue. Last week, in the
joint declaration of the Zapatero visit, they had agreed to a
statement cautiously praising the Moroccan proposals as a
basis for progress. The Algerians then raised the price of
gas exports to Spain by a hefty amount described in the press
as 20 percent. (Comment: This move, possibly worth hundreds
of millions of dollars, may have been in the cards anyway.
End comment.) The Spanish Parliament unanimously (including
Zapatero's own Socialist party) appeared to repudiate this
endorsement by voting for a bill proposed by leftist splinter
parties to return to the historical Spanish approach focusing
on self-determination. King Juan Carlos, in Algiers this
week, tried to dodge the issue and was accommodated by
Bouteflika. FM Moratinos, with the King in Algiers,
published an op-ed walking the cat back on the Moroccan
proposals, stressing Spanish rejection of unilateral
solutions, and support for negotiations without
preconditions.

5. (C) Polcouns briefed on his recently completed trip to
Sahara. GOM consultation with the Sahrawi has been minimal,
but there appeared to be interest in the prospect of a plan.
Local observers believe that most of the original Sahrawis
were still opposed to Moroccan overlordship, but they now
admitted to being a minority of current population in the
territory. Both pro and anti-government Sahrawis mostly want
to manage own affairs, the difference is trust, which is
eroded by continuing, if modestly abating, human rights
violations. It appeared that the Moroccans have put in a lot
of work on their proposals, and it now looked like they will
at least have a plan to put on the table in April, but no one
has yet seen anything that will win many additional Sahrawi
hearts and minds.

6. (C) Algeria remained a thorny question for all. Algiers
is beginning to react to the GOM diplomatic offensive, but
has stuck tightly to its insistence on the Baker formula.
France said Algiers is like a boxer in a corner, and could
lash out. Levers to persuade them are few, as the Spanish
have discovered. Opening the border with Morocco will
benefit the Kingdom and Algeria both, but the latter doesn't
need it. The only fruitful area of collaboration, as noted
by the German, was counterterrorism, but this may not be
enough to foster a rapprochement. Russia may have some

influence with the Algerians, but the French said their
Embassy in Moscow commented that the Russian were unlikely to
play a constructive role (apparently without haing directly
posed the question to the GOR). They unhappily recalled
GAZPROM-SONATRACH discussions on forming a cartel. The
French believed that giving the Algerians some formal status
in the negotiations, not as a party, which they refuse, but
as a Godfather (parrain) could provide some incentive.

7. (C) On next steps, the French have advised the GOM to
present their plan first to the UNSYG to include in his
report, and to the April UNSC president, the UK. The U.K.
said they expected to see a Moroccan draft during their UNSC
presidency.
******************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
******************************************

Riley

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