Schenker’s visit marks the first visit in Laayoune by a senior US official since the start of the conflict over Western Sahara, more than 40 years ago.
During his visit to the city of Laayoune in southern Morocco, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, stressed the importance of the USA-Morocco relation, noting that they “have never been so strong as now.”
Speaking at the new TIBU Maroc education center’s launch ceremony in Laayoune, the US diplomat notably mentioned the US “historic” decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
He reiterated his country’s support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan for a sustainable, compromise-based political solution to the Sahara conflict.
For Schenker, his visit, a prelude to the opening of a US consulate in southern Morocco, marks the dawn of a new era in US-Morocco relations.
“This is a key moment in the US-Morocco relations, never have these relations been so strong as now,” he said.
Referring to the city of Tangier, which is home to a centuries-old US diplomatic representation, Schenker recalled that this year marks two hundred years since the United States opened its first diplomatic mission in Morocco.
“Tangier houses the oldest US diplomatic representation in the world,” he said.
The American official’s stay in Laayoune coincided with the opening of a new cultural and learning center by Moroccan NGO TIBU Maroc.
The new center, which the Moroccan NGO launched in partnership with the US embassy in Rabat and the Moroccan Ministry of Education, aims to boost youth empowerment in southern Morocco.
In an interview with Morocco’s state media on Saturday, the president of Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra region, Sidi Hamid Ould Errachid said that the “historic” visit of the US diplomat to Laayoune confirms the US “clear support” for Morocco’s full sovereignty over Western Sahara.