Instead of arriving in Morocco on Wednesday, Secretary Pompeo will be meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Portugal.
Rabat – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has delayed and cut in half his trip to Morocco. In an earlier press statement, the State Department announced that Pompeo would be in Morocco December 4-6 to meet King Mohammed VI. Instead, the secretary has shortened his trip to one day, Thursday, December 5.
Pompeo has been attending the NATO Leaders Meeting with President Donald Trump in London. Instead of traveling on to Morocco, he moved forward a day of meetings in Portugal to Wednesday, December 4, and delayed his Morocco trip by one day.
In Portugal, Pompeo is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A former American ambassador, Gerald Feierstein, highlighted the relationship between Morocco and the US in an interview with state-owned news agency Maghreb Arab Press ahead of Pompeo’s trip. “The U.S. clearly continues to look to Morocco to help advance important regional objectives, including combating violent extremism and promoting a just and sustainable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.”
During a telephone press briefing last week, a senior state department official alleged that Morocco “has these quiet ties and relationship with Israel as well, as we all know,” a statement the Moroccan public may not receive well. Morocco frequently issues statements of support to the Palestinian people and sends aid.
The State Department says that during his visit, Pompeo will meet with “a range of government officials to review our countries’ strong economic and security partnership.”
In the telephone briefing, the official also commented that the Western Sahara conflict would likely come up in Pompeo’s talks with Moroccan leaders. The diplomat had high praise for Morocco as “across the board a leader in [countering violent extremism] and bringing back foreign terrorist fighters.”
Feierstein also remarked that Morocco’s work in deradicalization and training of imams is signigicant in the global confrontation with terrorism.