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Rabat – US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker has described Morocco as a key US partner, highlighting the country’s central contribution to security and counterterrorism efforts in the MENA region.
The US official made the comments during a press conference with Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita in Dakhla, southern Morocco. The city will see the official opening of the US consulate, a move designed to reflect Washington’s unequivocal support for Morocco’s territorial integrity.
“I can announce with a fervent heart that the U.S.-Morocco relationship is as strong as ever, and our best years are ahead of us,” the official said during the press conference. He also said he was honored to be in Morocco to set the stage for what he appeared to describe as a new era for US-Morocco ties.
‘Two centuries of friendship’
“Morocco is also the only country in Africa with which we have a Free Trade Agreement, which has more than doubled Moroccan exports to the United States since the pact entered into force in 2006. The value of our bilateral trade has grown five-fold in that timeframe.”
The official recalled the historic decision of US President Donald Trump, who recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara on December 10.
Schenker said the decision was the outgrowth of “some of the most consequential developments in the two centuries of friendship between the United States and Morocco.”
He lauded the Moroccan King’s leadership, which he said made the recent developments possible, further cementing the US-Morocco cooperation.
Morocco, an example of tolerance
Commenting on Morocco’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Israel, the US official described Morocco as an example of openness to social diversity, coexistence, and religious tolerance.
“Morocco’s efforts to promote religious tolerance and harmony – from its historical tradition of protecting its Jewish minority to the signing of the Marrakech Declaration – sets an example in the region.”
President Trump’s December 10 announcement, he notably commented on Morocco’s decision to establish ties with Israel, calling the two countries “great” friends of the US.
Rabat and Tel-Aviv have since made public their readiness to open liaison offices and boost their cooperation in a wide range of fields, including agriculture and trade.
Morocco in new US Africa strategy
Schenker also pledged to go beyond traditional, trade and security-focused US-Morocco ties to deepen the bilateral friendship through more cultural exchanges.
In addition to Washington’s unambiguous support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan for Western Sahara, Schenker’s visit also comes amid US plans to invest more than $3 billion in Morocco.
Earlier this month, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) unveiled its Prosper Africa project, designating Morocco as a regional hub for investment and development and the gateway to America’s African ambitions.
The planned investments are also set to contribute to the development of Morocco’s southern provinces.
Morocco will also host Prosper Africa, a USAID initiative that seeks to boost between the US and Africa.
According to reports, the presence of the US delegation to open the US consulate in Dakhla will also mark the inauguration of the Prosper Africa office.