The United States Secretary of State for the Middle East and South East Asia, Mr.?
The United States Secretary of State for the Middle East and South East Asia, Mr. Alfred Atherton, arrived in Algiers on Saturday (28 February). His visit is part of a fact finding tour of countries involved in the dispute over the Western (formerly Spanish) Sahara.
On arrival he was greeted by the U.S. Ambassador to Algiers, Mr. Richard Parker, before meeting reporters. His missions started with a visit to Tunisia, and ends with talks in Morocco starting on Tuesday (2 March).
A few hours before the arrival of Mr. Atherton in Algiers, the Algerian backed Polisario Front proclaimed the Western Sahara the "Saharan Arab Democratic Republic". The independence campaign has led to frequent clashes between Polisario guerrillas and Moroccan and Mauritian forces. Spain recently handed over the area to Morocco and Mauritania.
Mr. Atherton did not comment on the crisis when he spoke to reporters. He confined his remarks to explaining that his tour co-incided with the visit of Mr. Charles Robinson, the United States Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, who is visiting several African states.
However, Mr. Atherton's talks with Algerian President, Colonel Houari Boumedienne, were expected to cover the Western Sahara dispute and the situation in the Middle East. Mr. Atherton said that his talks with north African leaders also covered matters of mutual interest and a broad exchange of views.