“Morocco is playing an essential leadership role, and the United States will stand by this relationship every step of the way.”
AFP (Rabat, Morocco, April 4, 2014) — Secretary of State John Kerry Friday pledged US support for Moroccan reforms and efforts to promote regional stability, while highlighting social challenges faced by Rabat. “Morocco is playing an essential leadership role, and the United States will stand by this relationship every step of the way,” he said at the end of a North African tour.
“The 18 different agreements that Morocco signed with Mali show that Morocco is driving greater security and greater prosperity in the region,” Kerry added, speaking in Rabat alongside his Moroccan counterpart, Salaheddine Mezouar. Those accords, signed in February during a tour of West Africa by King Mohammed VI, included an agreement to train hundreds of imams in Morocco. Rabat is considered an important US ally in combating radical Islamist ideology, which has enjoyed a revival elsewhere in North Africa since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that swept away decades-old dictatorships.
Morocco’s agreement to train imams from nearby countries afflicted by jihadist violence, such as Mali, Tunisia and Libya, forms part of its strategy of promoting a more tolerant version of Islam. Kerry met Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane after flying to Rabat from Algiers on Thursday evening. He was to meet King Mohammed VI in Casablanca later on Friday before returning to Washington. He cited joint military exercises being conducted by Moroccan armed forces and US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in the southern city of Agadir as an aspect of strategic cooperation between the two countries.