US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, who is currently visiting the Moroccan Sahara, held talks Sunday in Dakhla with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita that covered bilateral relations as well as a set of regional issues, such as the situation in Libya and in the Sahel.
At a press briefing following the meeting, the US official stressed that Morocco is a pivotal partner for stability in the region and insisted on the need to maintain the longstanding relations between Rabat and Washington.
He commended the leadership of King Mohammed VI in promoting “a bold and far-reaching reform agenda” over the past two decades and praised the King’s “continued and precious support” on issues of common interest, including peace in the Middle East, stability and development in Africa and regional security.
He also highlighted Morocco’s efforts to “promote religious tolerance and harmony” which are “a model to follow in the region”, mentioning in this regard “the Kingdom’s historic tradition of protecting its Jewish community” as well as the signing of the Marrakech Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in the Islamic World.
For the two officials, the good relationship between the two countries is also justified by commercial ties. The free trade agreement between the USA and Morocco made it possible to increase trade between the two countries to five billion dollars, they underlined. “Moroccan exports to the United States since the entry into force of the FTA have doubled in 2006. The value of our bilateral trade has grown fivefold in the same time frame,” David Schenker said.
Schenker revealed that he discussed with Bourita the two countries’ strong military partnership as well as “the objectives of our common foreign policy and recent developments.”
The American official recalled President Trump’s announcement last month that the United States recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the southern provinces and the resumption of relations between Rabat and Tel Aviv, saying that these are the most important developments that took place over two centuries of friendship between the United States and Morocco.
Schenker underlined that the United States is determined to strengthen its ties with Morocco through the promotion of trade relations, cultural exchanges, and political ties, saying “I can announce with great enthusiasm that the relationship between the United States and Morocco is always strong and continues to prosper, and that our best years are still to come.”
The visit by David Schenker to Laayoune and Dakhla, the first ever by a US senior official to the Saharan provinces, came in a context of rapprochement between the two countries following the recognition of the Moroccanness of these provinces by the United States on December 10, a recognition to be sealed by the opening of a US consular representation in Dakhla.