Rabat – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be touching down in Morocco on Wednesday, December 4, on a two-day trip that will include a visit with the King, according to a US official.
In a press briefing by telephone, an official identified only as a “senior state department official” discussed Pompeo’s upcoming visit, repeatedly touting Morocco as a “critical [countering terrorism] partner.”
The secretary will meet with “a range of government officials” in Morocco on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Friday, December 6, Pompeo will fly out of Morocco and head to Lisbon.
Morocco has ‘quiet ties’ with Israel
In the November 27 telephone press briefing, the senior official previewed Pompeo’s trip with high praise for Morocco.
The diplomat described Morocco as “a leader on the African continent, an important voice for peace in the broader Middle East, and a source of stability in the Mediterranean.”
The official noted Morocco as a bastion of tolerance in the region. However, he also alleged that Morocco “has these quiet ties and relationship with Israel as well, as we all know,” a statement that may not be well-received by the Moroccan public.
While the press statement on the visit’s objective was stereotypically vague, saying meetings would focus on the US and Morocco’s “strong economic and security partnership,” the official commented that the Western Sahara conflict would likely also be discussed as it is a priority for Morocco.
The US’s policy, the official said, continues to be “that Morocco’s Autonomy Plan is serious, realistic, and credible.”
On resolving the conflict, the official commented that the UN-led political process is “a work in progress” and “in terms of negotiation, there is still a lot of ground to cover.”
Recognizing Morocco’s efforts against terrorism, the official praised Morocco as “across the board a leader in [countering violent extremism] and bringing back foreign terrorist fighters. Just a great partner.”
The official also reminded the press of Morocco being the first country to recognize the US’s independence.