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Cablegate: Press Coverage of Nea a/S Welch's Visit

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DE RUEHRB #0183 0590723
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280723Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8199
INFO RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 4699
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3533
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 5924
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RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4945
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0273
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 9534
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0785

UNCLAS RABAT 000183

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO OVIP MO
SUBJECT: PRESS COVERAGE OF NEA A/S WELCH'S VISIT

1. NEA A/S Welch's remarks to the press following his meeting with
King Mohammed VI generated substantial positive local broadcast and
print media coverage. Semi-private "2M" and government-run "SNRT"
television both ran lengthy lead stories during their prime-time
French- and Arabic-language news broadcasts on the night of February
25, with a combined air-time of more than 16 minutes of reporting.
"SNRT" ran the entirety of A/S Welch's comments to the press twice,
once during prime time and again at 23:00. Nearly every Moroccan
daily also covered the event (as did Asharq al-Awsat), mostly by
publishing an article from the government wire service MAP on page
one.

2. The Moroccan press focused principally on A/S Welch's comments
on Western Sahara, with most printing the entirety of his remarks.
His comment that "the Moroccan proposal offers a new possibility and
has led to these rounds of negotiations" were widely interpreted as
indicating -- in the words of pro-Palace daily "Le Matin" --
"renewed U.S. support" to the Moroccan autonomy proposal. The
Moroccan press also highlighted A/S Welch's comments about the need
to establish "a strong and positive relationship between Morocco and
Algeria." The press reported that A/S Welch had discussed with the
King, President Bush's desire to see productive talks on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year, saying: "His Majesty
expressed to me the concern and support of the Kingdom of Morocco
for the Palestinian people, but also to see a better future for both
sides by a negotiated outcome that has a two-state solution as its
product." Finally, the press widely quoted A/S Welch as saying:
"Morocco and the United States, broadly speaking, share a strategic
vision of peace and stability, prosperity and freedom throughout the
area. His Majesty is a visionary leader in this region and a strong
supporter of peace." Television coverage also reported that A/S
Welch had discussed Lebanon, Iraq and Iran with the king.
Concerning the establishment of AFRICOM, A/S Welch explained that
there had been many misunderstandings about U.S. intentions,
stressing that the United States had no intention to base additional
American troops on the African continent.

3. Among the few newspapers that went beyond the MAP story,
independent daily Le Soir Echos reported that A/S Welch's private
talks focused on pushing forward Western Sahara negotiations and
promoting Moroccan-Algerian security cooperation; Le Soir was the
only daily to report that A/S Welch had met with Moroccan security
officials during his visit. Independent daily Al Massae, for its
part, opined that, "following the negative UNSYG report on the
progress of negotiations between Morocco and the POLISARIO on the
Sahara, it seems that the U.S. is intending again to play the role
of mediator between Morocco and Algeria, to push forward the
negotiations process to find a solution to the Sahara issue." The
IO has received other calls from the press inquiring as to whether
A/S Welch's visit indicates a USG intention to play a greater
mediating role.

Riley

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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