Rabat - King Mohammed VI is expected to make an official visit to Russia next month, according to Moroccan news website Le360.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI is expected to make an official visit to Russia next month, according to Moroccan news website Le360.
The Moroccan monarch’s visit to Russia was initially scheduled to take place almost two years ago in June 2014, but then postponed to May 2015 and subsequently postponed indefinitely. If this visit goes off without a hitch, it will be King Mohammed VI’s second official visit to Russia after his first visit in 2002.
The purpose is both to strengthen economic relations between the two countries, and also to secure Moscow’s support for Morocco on the Western Sahara conflict.
The economic relations between the two countries improved significantly in recent years. Trade between the two countries soared to over $2.5 billion in 2014-2015.
In addition to being one of the UN veto-wielding countries, Russia is member of the Group of Friends on the Western Sahara, which also includes the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Spain.
The visit will take place just few weeks before the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon’s annual report to the Security Council on “The Situation concerning the Western Sahara.”
The mandate of the United Nations Mission to the Western Sahara, known by its French acronym as MINURSO, is up for renewal on April 30, 2016. Based on the report by the UN chief, members of the Security Council will decide whether or not to renew MINURSO’s mandate for another additional year.
In recent years, Morocco’s foreign policy shifted towards favorably balancing its relations with the world’s major players such as China and Russia.
Analysts say Morocco should no longer count exclusively on the support of France and the United States, and that the strengthening of relations with Russia and China, as well as other members of the Security Council, is a foreign policy imperative.
Though France and the United States have repeatedly stated that the Moroccan autonomy plan presented to the Security Council in 2007 is “serious and credible” and can pave the way towards reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the territorial dispute that pits Morocco against the Polisario and Algeria, those countries have not demonstrated the political resolve to provide Morocco with the support it needs from its strategic allies.