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Rabat – Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita held a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today.
The two officials discussed several topics of common interest, including security cooperation.
“Had a good conversation today with Moroccan Foreign Minister Bourita about a range of shared regional peace and security interests, including developments in Libya,” Blinken wrote on his Twitter.
The official also emphasized his country’s desire to strengthen cooperation to secure stability and prosperity in the region
The tweet did not mention whether the officials discussed Western Sahara.
The talks, however, show that the US new administration is maintaining the country’s position regarding Morocco-US cooperation, with Rabat as one of its key allies in the region.
According to the State Department, Secretary Blinken extolled the “longstanding and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship.”
Blinken said the relations are founded on shared values and interests in regional peace, security, and prosperity.
The secretary also welcomed Morocco’s decision to re-establish ties with Israel, arguing that cooperation between the two countries will bring long-term benefits for both parties.
The mention of Israel-Morocco rapprochement suggests that the US has no intent to change its position regarding Western Sahara, and signals that it will abide by the tripartite joint declaration the US, Morocco, and Israel signed in December 2020, Moroccan foreign policy expert Samir Bennis said.
The three countries signed the deal, stipulating that they should abide by all agreements mentioned, including Trump’s proclamation recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Since Trump’s decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara in December, Algeria and Polisario have intensified efforts to make Biden reverse the decision.
Thus far, the new administration in the US has maintained its position on Western Sahara.
Ned Price, US State Department spokesperson, said in February that the US is adopting what has been “broadly discussed.”
“We will continue to support the UN process to implement a just and lasting solution to the [Western Sahara] dispute in Morocco,” he said.
After Trump’s recognition, the website of the State Department now uses an integral map of Morocco, including the southern provinces.
The phone call brought relief and a strong answer to concerns that mounted after Blinken’s phone call with Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum on Thursday.
Algeria extolled the phone call, and claimed that Western Sahara was among the points of discussion. The State Department’s statement on the US-Algeria conversation omitted any mention of Western Sahara.
The agency’s statement about the Morocco-US call suggests that, “despite the fact that it took place after that between the US and Algeria, the discussion between Blinken and Bourita gives Algeria no room to debate. It clearly indicates that the US will not reconsider its recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty,” Bennis, who is also MWN’s Editor-in-Chief, added.
Blinken and Bourita’s phone call also covered discussion on opportunities to boost cooperation in Africa to promote economic prosperity and stability.
Morocco’s key efforts on Libya, climate change
The secretary of state recalled Morocco’s pioneering and key roles in the Libyan dossier and its commitment to continue to strengthen security to face terror threats in the region and Sahel.
Morocco convened rival factions from Libya’s High Council of State and House of Representatives for several round tables in Bouznika and Tangier in 2020 and 2021.
The meetings were part of the efforts to settle the parties’ political divergences, overseen by Morocco.
The most recent meetings took place on January 22-23 in Bouznika.
Morocco’s government and King Mohamed VI have long expressed support for the UN-led political process and renewed determination to help Libyan parties find a mutually acceptable solution to end the conflict.
Blinken and Bourita also discussed King Mohammed VI’s “far-reaching reforms” over the past two decades, encouraging Morocco to continue to reaffirm its commitment to protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Blinken also commended King Mohammed VI’s leadership in combating climate change and investing in renewable energy. He “encouraged Morocco to help promote green economic growth and development in Africa.”
The statement echoes recent remarks from John Kerry, the US’ special presidential envoy for climate.
In a recent tweet, Kerry said that Morocco is a “tremendous partner in the global fight on climate change.”
He recalled Morocco’s commitment to combating the climate crisis that he witnessed at COP22, the annual UN climate change conference, which Morocco hosted in Marrakech in 2015.
“We’re eager to deepen our partnership on the #RoadtoGlasgow,” Kerry said, referring to this year’s COP26 in the UK.