Gen. Stephen Townsend, Chief of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has described Morocco as a “strong” partner of the United States in counterterrorism, a major military ally, and as a regional leader in security.
He made the remarks at a press briefing held Thursday in Rabat at the end of his visit to the North African Kingdom. He said Morocco-US relations are based on a mutual commitment to security and sustainable development in the region.
“By training together and with other African partners, the U.S. military and the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces can improve our ability to work together and provide a safe, more prosperous future for the region”, added the new commander of AFRICOM command.
He praised the excellent cooperation ties existing with Morocco, saying that “AFRICOM looks forward to continuing our work with the Kingdom of Morocco to promote regional security and stability.”
Morocco is an African country that not only secures its own borders but brings security to the rest of Africa with training and peacekeeping operations, he added.
On the situation in the Sahel, the US Army General said Washington shares Morocco’s concerns over the instability there, emphasizing Morocco’s role in security matters in the Sahel region, where terrorist threats are a concern for West African countries. “We are working with all of our African partners and international partners to try to solve this problem,” he underlined.
Gen. Townsend who also hailed Morocco’s cooperation under peacekeeping operations worldwide, further said that the military cooperation between Morocco and the United States is “rich and diversified”.
This exemplary cooperation is manifested in the “African Lion” Drills, considered among the most important inter-allied exercises in the world.
The 2020 version will see the participation of 3,000 soldiers from 20 countries, he revealed.
He described as excellent his talks with Minister Delegate for National Defense Abdelatif Loudyi and with Lt.General Abdelfattah Louarak, Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces.
Before coming to Rabat, Gen. Townsend traveled to Tunis where he met Tunisian officials as well as Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
Topics of discussion with Sarraj included the security environment, the importance of addressing the existing violent extremist organization threat, and the need to resolve the conflict in Libya, AFRICOM said in a press release.
“We emphasized to Prime Minister Sarraj the importance of supporting a diplomatic solution to put an end to the current conflict,” said Townsend.