The friendship group aspires to generate ideas, proposals, and projects that will enable Morocco and Mexico to reach their full potential for cooperation.
Rabat – Morocco and Mexico have renewed their commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation with the creation of a diplomatic friendship group.
A Friday reception at the Moroccan Embassy in Mexico gave rise to the friendship group, aiming to strengthen the rapprochement and the exchange of information and experiences between the two countries.
The friendship group aspires to promote dialogue, cooperation, and consultation on subjects of common interest between Morocco and Mexico.
A statement from Morocco’s Embassy in Mexico City said the founders of the friendship group include personalities from the political, economic, academic, and cultural worlds.
Experts in the fields of health, agriculture, agro-industry, gastronomy, education, culture, tourism, business, media, and cinema all enrich the group’s diversity.
At the helm sits Professor Armando Barriguete, a former adviser to the Mexican government and member of the Mexican National Academy of Medicine.
Barriguete said on Friday that the Mexican members of the friendship group intend to consolidate the rapprochement between the two countries by organizing meetings, exchanges, and periodic consultations with their Moroccan counterparts.
The group’s leader called for visits to Morocco to develop joint cooperation projects as soon as the COVID-19 situation permits.
The diplomatic initiative aspires to help generate ideas, proposals, and projects that will enable Morocco and Mexico to reach their full potential for cooperation, Barriguete said.
An annual report on the group’s proposals should be available for the Moroccan and Mexican governments “to further strengthen bilateral relations for the benefit of our two nations,” Barriguete concluded in the statement.
The Moroccan Ambassador in Mexico City, Abdelfattah Lebbar, said Morocco is determined to elevate its relations with Mexico to the level of a strategic partnership. Improving relations with countries in Latin America and in the Caribbean is one of the priorities of Morocco’s foreign policy, he stressed.
Lebbar highlighted Morocco’s developments over the past 20 years under the leadership of King Mohammed VI. He expressed his hope that these advances can be exploited for the benefit of rapprochement between Morocco and Mexico.
He emphasized that Morocco and Mexico should explore more avenues of collaboration and extend the range of existing areas of bilateral cooperation.
The creation of the friendship group follows pledges in February from the President of Morocco’s House of Councillors, Hakim Benchamach, and the President of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, Laura Angelica Rojas Hernandez, to develop cooperation.
During a meeting in Mexico City, the officials explored the potential for mutually beneficial exchanges of expertise in the protection of democracy and human rights, management of migration issues, environmental protection, and the fight against climate change.
In January, a meeting between representatives of the Moroccan-Mexican parliamentary friendship group in Rabat gave rise to hope that the two countries will begin a new era of cooperation.
The members of the friendship group said heightened cooperation in the economic, commercial, and cultural fields should be on the agenda for the future of Morocco-Mexico relations. In particular, the two countries should aim to increase trade, as trade between Morocco and Mexico amounted to only $508 million in 2018.
Morocco, Mexico, and the Western Sahara question
A constant thorn in the side of the countries’ relations, however, has been the Western Sahara question. Since 1979, when Mexico established diplomatic ties with the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the issue has been an elephant in the room of Morocco-Mexico diplomacy.
Morocco, however, holds onto hope that its diplomatic momentum in Latin America will eventually carry over to Mexico.
During the Mexico City meeting between Benchamach and Hernandez in February, the Moroccan deputy invited Mexican MPs to visit Morocco’s southern provinces. He said the visit would help Mexico better understand the reality of the Western Sahara issue and the importance of Morocco’s Autonomy Plan.
Benchamach explained that the Moroccan autonomy initiative is the only realistic political solution to the Western Sahara conflict. Hernandez, however, did not directly address the Moroccan MP’s invitation or statement on the Autonomy Plan in her remarks following the meeting.
Mexico may not have immediate plans to sever ties with the self-styled SADR, but its relations with Morocco are still on track to improve.