US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Rabat on Monday and met with Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhanouch, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and civil society leaders.
His official visit to Morocco was the first since President Joe Biden has taken office.
In a joint press conference with Bourita, Blinken said the United States supports King Mohammed VI’s ambitious reform agenda to strengthen Morocco’s institutions and ensure the government is responsive to its people.
“The US is committed to working with Morocco to make concrete progress in key areas, advancing the right to freedom of expression and association, criminal justice reforms, women’s rights and gender equality, government transparency.”
Commenting on the Western Sahara issue, Blinken said the US administration “very much supports the work of the United Nations Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, Stefan de Mistura, in leading the political process for Western Sahara, under the auspices of the UN, to promote a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Western Sahara and the region.”
“We appreciate Morocco’s support for this mission,” he said, adding that the US continues to view the Kingdom’s Autonomy Plan as “serious, credible, and realistic,” and one potential approach to meet the aspirations of the people of Western Sahara.
Blinken said he discussed with his Moroccan counterpart security matters.
According to the Secretary, the US recognizes the important role that Morocco plays in maintaining regional security and stability, as well as its contribution to peace and prosperity in the region.
“We’re collaborating closely on addressing regional issues like the Sahel and Libya, the fight against terrorism, where Morocco has demonstrated sustained leadership to the Global Counterterrorism Forum and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS,” he told reporters.
Bourita, for his part, said he discussed with Blinken various issues aimed at bolstering bilateral partnership, including political dialogue, human rights, the free trade agreement and Millennium Challenge Corporation programs.
Discussions also tackled security and military cooperation mechanisms, while Bourita affirmed that their partnership can adapt to various external challenges, especially in the Middle East.
In response to a question on whether Morocco is concerned that the US will not meet its commitment to open a consulate in Western Sahara, Bourita said Morocco is fully confident that all aspects pertaining to the three-party agreement signed in December 2020 can be applicable as part of agreements and as different parties deem relevant and appropriate.
He affirmed that the US position with regard to the autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is firm and stable under different administrations.
“Autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only solution supported by the US and by other countries, and you have also seen recently Spain and Germany joining and other African and Arab countries,” he further noted.