Washington - Eminent members of the US congress reaffirmed on Wednesday Washington's support to the Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara and to the reforms process conducted by Morocco which they called "a model country and a strategic ally."
Washington – Eminent members of the US congress reaffirmed on Wednesday Washington’s support to the Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara and to the reforms process conducted by Morocco which they called “a model country and a strategic ally.”
“Since becoming the first nation to formally recognize the newly independent United States, Morocco and the US have shared a strategic and bilateral relationship,” said Chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, stressing that this relationship “has continued to strengthen in recent years.”
In her statement Ros-Lehtinen said that “Morocco has stood up as a model of moderation and the hope for a democratic future in the Middle East and North Africa,” a region that has seen rising threats of terrorism and extremism. She said “It’s important that the US continue to assist Morocco in countering these threats.”
On the Western Sahara, the Chairwoman, Ranking Member Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Chairman of the Morocco Caucus Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) reiterated their support for longstanding US policy on the Sahara that advocates for a solution based on a formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affair, William V. Roebuck, who testified at the hearing, noted that “US policy toward the Western Sahara has remained consistent for many years.”
The hearing comes less than a week after Secretary of State John Kerry joined Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar in Rabat to co-chair the 2nd meeting of the Morocco-US Strategic Dialogue. Kerry hailed Morocco’s leadership on reforms as well as security and stability in the region, pledging continued US support.
Kerry’s remarks were echoed at the hearing by Roebuck and Alina Romanowski, USAID Middle East bureau.
President of the Morocco caucus at the House also renewed “the US longstanding position in the Sahara issue, supporting a settlement based on the formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.”
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs also reiterated at the hearing that “Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic and credible”.
“With regard to the Moroccan autonomy plan, we have made clear that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible, and that it represents a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity”, he told the hearing.
“U.S. policy toward the Western Sahara has remained consistent for many years”, insisted Roebuck, stressing “We support the work of the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara and UN-led efforts to find a peaceful, sustainable and mutually-agreed solution to the Western Sahara conflict.”
The US official further stressed that “the United States and Morocco enjoy a very strong bilateral relationship,” “focused on promoting regional stability, supporting democratic reform efforts, countering violent extremism, and strengthening trade and cultural ties.”
Roebuck also noted “the growing role” of Morocco’s National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) “as a credible and proactive defender of human rights,” and cited the country’s “important steps forward in strengthening the protection of human rights.”
He also pointed out that the work visit paid in November 2013 by King Mohammed VI to Washington “provided an opportunity for the United States to reaffirm our close strategic partnership with Morocco”
“We worked to deepen our consultations on regional issues, and stressed our shared priorities in Mali, Syria, the Maghreb, and the Sahel,” went the US administration member, noting that the two countries continued their discussions during the 2nd session of strategic dialog, co-chaired by US secretary of state and Morocco’s foreign affairs and cooperation minister, Salaheddine Mezouar.
The Dialogue was launched in 2012 “out of a shared desire to find opportunities to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Morocco”, argued the US official.