WASHINGTON (May. 20)
Foreign Minister M’Hamed Boucetta of Morocco made it clear today that while his country welcomes the return of the Sinai to Egypt it continues to oppose the Camp David process. Instead, he stressed, Morocco joins other Arab states in demanding a comprehensive peace agreement which includes Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.
Boucetta, answering questions from reporters in French through an interpreter at a breakfast sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine, said there were “very intense discussions” on the Middle East during King Hassan. It’s meeting with President Reagan at the White House. He said Morocco was also seeking U.S. arms which it needs to fight the war it is conducting in the Spanish Sahard against the Algerian-based Polisario movement. Talks have also included the U.S. request for landing rights in Morocco for the U.S. Rapid Deployment Force.
The Reagan Administration has asked for $100 million in military sales credit, but the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week limited the amount to $50 million. It also recommended against allowing U.S. military advisors or other personnel from going into the contested area of the Spanish Sahara.
MAY BE FIRST ARAB F.M. TO VISIT CAIRO
Bousetta, said that King Hassan sent Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Egyptian people a message of congratulations on the return of the Sinai last April 25. He admitted that he may be the first Arab Foreign Minister to visit Cairo but said this would be in an “African framework” not in an Arab context. He said Morocco wants Egyptian support in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) for a referendum to be held on the disputed part of the Spanish Sahara. The referendum has been blocked by Algeria and Libya which heads the OAU this year.
However, Boucetta said that if Arab or Islamic affairs come up during his visit to Cairo he would be “neither blind or deaf.” But he said that it would be “premature” to say now whether he will invite Egypt to the upcoming Arab summit in Fez which he said would probably he held in October.
Morocco is believed to have played a part in bringing Israel and Egypt together but it joined other Arab countries in breaking diplomatic relations with Egypt after the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Boucetta said today that the reason is that the Camp David process went against a decision of the Arab summit in Fez in 1974 which called for a comprehensive agreement not a “unilateral agreement.”
He said the 1974 Fez summit required complete Israeli withdrawal and put the Palestinian question at the “crux” of the Mideast problem. It also required the approval of the Palestine Liberation Organization on any decision involving the Palestinians, he added. He said this was still the alternative to Camp David supported by the Arab countries.
HOPES ZAIRE WILL RECONSIDER
Boucetta said he hoped to get Zaire and other African nations who are considering following Zaire’s example in re-establishing relations with Israel to reconsider their position. He said that many African nations broke relations with Israel because Israel held the Sinai, the territory of a fellow African country, Egypt, and now believe that this barrier to relations with Israel no longer exists. But Boucetta said that this “justification is not sufficient because Israel continues to occupy by force” Arab territory.
In addition, Boucetta stressed Morocco’s concern with Zaire’s intention to open its embassy in Jerusalem. He noted that the United Notions Security Council had condemned the Knesset decision declaring Jerusalem Israel’s eternal capital.
Although an emissary of President Mobutu Sese Seko said in Jerusalem last Sunday that his nation’s embassy would be in Israel’s capital, Zaire’s Ambassador to the UN said yesterday that a decision on the site of the embassy has not yet been made and Zaire’s Ambassador to Belgium said the embassy would be in Tel Aviv. King Hassan is president of the Islamic nation’s “Committee for the Liberation of Jerusalem.”
Boucetta said that Hassan and Reagan also discussed the very “dangerous” situation in Lebanon. He said he believes that steps will be taken in the next few weeks to “defuse the tension.” U.S. deputy assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs Morris Draper is in Beirut as part of this effort. Hassan is scheduled to meet with top Administration and Congressional officials before leaving the United States tomorrow.