Morocco Welcomes US Support on Western Sahara during Congressional Visit to Rabat
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015 (MACP) — A delegation of US congressmen led by Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) traveled to Rabat, Morocco on Tuesday for meetings with high-level Moroccan officials, including Minister Delegate to the Foreign Minister Mbarka Bouaida and Minister Delegate to the Interior Minister Charki Drais. During the visit, Ms. Bouaida welcomed the US’s continued support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative, and discussed matters of mutual concern, including counterterrorism and regional stability.
The visit reinforced Congressional support for Morocco’s development of the Sahara. The 2015 Appropriations Bill signed into law in December 2014 included a strengthened mandate requiring that US assistance designated for Morocco be used in the Western Sahara, stating that “Funds appropriated under Title 3 of the Act shall be made available for assistance for the Western Sahara.” The bill put into action the “shared commitment to the improvement of the lives of the people of the Western Sahara” made in the Joint Statement that followed President Barack Obama’s and King Mohammed VI’s November 2013 White House meeting. In a Joint Statement following the second US-Morocco Strategic Dialogue in April 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry and Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Salaheddine Mezouar again “affirmed their shared commitment to the improvement of the lives of the people of the Western Sahara.”
The bill’s language further strengthened US policy supporting a solution to the Western Sahara conflict based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty and recognizing the Moroccan autonomy initiative as “serious, realistic, and credible.”
Other issues addressed during the Congressional delegation included political, economic, and social reforms undertaken in Morocco under the leadership of King Mohammed VI, and Morocco’s multidimensional approach to combating violent extremism. Morocco is one of some 60 countries—and the only country in the Maghreb—participating in the US’s anti-ISIS coalition.
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