Washington, DC - At the third session of the United States–Morocco Strategic Dialogue today at the Department of State, Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar reviewed progress over the past year and discussed developments in the broader region which will shape our joint agenda over the next year.
Building on the priorities defined in November 2013 by President Obama and King Mohammed VI, the outcomes of 2014’s Second Strategic Dialogue, and the shared economic objectives discussed during Vice President Biden’s November 2014 visit to Morocco, our strategic partnership and shared vision will promote a secure, stable, democratic, and prosperous Maghreb, Sahel region, Africa, and Middle East.
Support for Democratic Reforms:
The Secretary reiterated the United States’ appreciation for the action and leadership of His Majesty the King in continuing efforts to strengthen further Morocco’s democratic institutions and promote economic prosperity and human development. He welcomed the recent launch of a series of programs designed to strengthen political parties and civil society and to help prepare for municipal and regional elections, which will represent a new devolution of power to local authorities.
The Secretary hailed the passage of important reforms to Morocco’s system of military justice to ensure that civilians will no longer face military tribunals. He also noted the important role of civil society as a voice for the public in the policy process; in this regard, the Secretary welcomed the recent registration, in accordance with the recommendations of the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), of a number of civil society organizations.
The Secretary congratulated the Minister on Morocco’s immigration reforms and its legalization of more than 18,000 illegal migrants and asylum seekers over the course of 2014. The Minister underlined the important role that the National Human Rights Council has played in the protection and promotion of human rights nationally. The two parties discussed joint initiatives to work together to promote human rights globally at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The Minister and the Secretary reviewed the successful Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Marrakech in November 2014 and discussed the next steps to jointly promote a culture of entrepreneurship in support of socioeconomic development and shared prosperity across the region. The Minister and Secretary emphasized the importance of Moroccan and U.S. support for a successful sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya.
The Secretary congratulated Morocco on its eligibility for a second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact and looked forward to the important work it will do to stimulate investment and growth by promoting private sector linkages in education and improving land policy and productivity. The Secretary and Minister applauded the Memorandum of Understanding signed today between the Government of Morocco and the Millennium Challenge Corporation designed to share expertise and lessons learned with other select countries in Africa.
They discussed efforts to further increase trade and investment between the two countries and take full advantage of the U.S.–Morocco Free Trade Agreement. They praised the strengthening of business to business ties through an ongoing series of United States–Morocco Business Development Conferences. The Minister and the Secretary welcomed the potential of future cooperation on energy and highlighted Moroccan progress toward its 2020 renewable energy targets, including notable advances in wind and solar power.
Engagement in Africa:
The Secretary highlighted the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI in promoting human development and economic prosperity within Africa.
The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the two countries’ will to work jointly to ensure security and stability and economic growth in Africa through a comprehensive and coordinated approach including food security, access to energy, trade promotion, conflict prevention, and the preservation of cultural and religious identity.
The Minister emphasized Morocco’s role and commitment in supporting growth and development in Africa and in providing an avenue for increased trade and investment in Africa, in particular through the enhancement of south-south cooperation; the Secretary reaffirmed the U.S. interest in coordinating efforts with Morocco on the continent and seizing the opportunities presented for shared prosperity.
The Issue of the Western Sahara:
The Secretary reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a peaceful, sustainable, mutually agreed-upon solution to the Western Sahara question. The United States’ policy toward the Western Sahara has remained consistent for many years. The United States has made clear that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible, and that it represents a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity. The United States supports the negotiations carried out by the United Nations, including the work of the UN Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General Ambassador Christopher Ross, and urges the parties to work toward a just, lasting, and mutually agreed political solution. The United States also supports the role of the UN Mission for the Referendum on Western Sahara (MINURSO). The Secretary and the Foreign Minister affirmed their shared commitment to the improvement of the lives of the people in the Western Sahara and discussed appropriate ways to meet that goal.
The Minister congratulated the United States for organizing the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism in Washington and reaffirmed its readiness to play a leading role in its follow-up process and demonstrating progress on the Summit’s action agenda at the leaders’ summit against violent extremism in New York on the margins of the UNGA. In this regard, the Secretary thanked the Minister for Morocco’s participation in this summit and for Morocco’s leadership in addressing the challenge of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, including through Morocco’s co-chairing the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group. The Secretary and the Minister hailed the work done since its creation by the Global Counterterrorism Forum.
Mindful of the importance of border control in any strategy to fight terrorism, they reaffirmed the commitment of Morocco and the United States to co-lead, within the GCTF, the Initiative on Open Border Security.
The Secretary noted the United States’ appreciation for Morocco’s leadership in countering violent extremism and welcomed the creation of Mohammed VI Institute of Training of Imams, Morchidines and Morchidates from Morocco and other African, Arab and European countries.
They looked forward to this year’s largest-ever iteration of the multilateral African Lion military exercise in Morocco, a critical event in support of greater regional security cooperation. They noted robust and growing cooperation to support Morocco’s reform of its justice sector and promoting the rule of law, and welcomed the launch of new law enforcement and counterterrorism programs, including a trilateral initiative with Moroccan and American trainers working together to train other African partners in border security and crisis management.
The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed their commitment to support the project initiated by the International Institute for Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), for the establishment of an informal platform for judicial cooperation in the Maghreb and the Sahel region on terrorism and other related cases.
Minister Mezouar reiterated His Majesty Mohammed VI’s support to the efforts by President Obama and the Secretary to advance Middle East peace and they acknowledged the contribution of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, as Chairman of Al Quds Committee, to the efforts aiming at achieving a two state solution.
The Minister and the Secretary reemphasized our shared goal of stability and security throughout the region and the continent of Africa, in particular the Sahel region. They noted the importance of stability in Libya and discussed both countries’ support for the UN process to advance reconciliation there.
The Secretary praised Morocco’s constructive role in inter-Libyan political talks, taking place in Skhirat, Morocco, under the auspices of the UN Special Representative for the Secretary General for Libya. The Secretary and the Minister underlined the vital importance of reaching a political and negotiated solution, which will promote stability and reconciliation in Libya.
On Mali, the Minister and the Secretary emphasized the need for a comprehensive solution which could address the root causes of the conflict and ensure a genuine and lasting national reconciliation which engages and is freely agreed to by all the concerned parties. The Secretary and Minister Mezouar underlined the importance of a solution that preserves Mali’s sovereignty and unity.
Educational and Cultural Cooperation:
The Minister and the Secretary discussed further cooperation to promote mutual understanding and dialogue in Morocco and throughout the region. They commended the work of the MacArthur Foundation, DreamYard, and Digital Youth Network together with the Moroccan Education and Resource Network (MEARN) in launching the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative pilot program between Morocco and American students earlier this spring. The Secretary congratulated Morocco on the comprehensive educational reforms the government has taken on, in recognition of the importance of education as it relates to developing a participatory democracy and encouraging economic growth.
The Secretary looked forward to furthering our partnership through USAID’s multi-year $25 million commitment to improving primary grade educational attainment. The Minister and the Secretary confirmed that strong interfaith dialogue, the promotion of values of moderation and tolerance are key for stability and development in the region and welcomed the convening of the international conference entitled “Women at the Heart of Monotheism: A Plural History” held in Rabat in November 2014.
The Secretary congratulated Morocco on its decision to organize and host the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will take place in 2016.
The Minister and the Secretary concluded by noting that the Moroccan–American strategic partnership is based both on shared interests and shared values which provide many avenues for cooperation and collaboration bilaterally, regionally, and globally. They committed to following up on the joint agenda in all its facets. The Secretary thanked the Minister for his invitation to visit Morocco, and they look forward to the fourth session of the Strategic Dialogue in Rabat next year.