Spanish PM arrives in Morocco on visit to cement ties

AFP , Wednesday 1 Feb 2023

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in Rabat on Wednesday for a visit aimed at mending ties following a deep diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Morocco s Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch (R) receives Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez upon his
Morocco s Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch (R) receives Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez upon his arrival in Rabat . AFP


Sanchez and a dozen ministers are set to sit down on Thursday with top members of the Moroccan government.

They are expected to sign a string of deals including on encouraging investment, Spanish government sources said, as well as discuss irregular migration.

Prior to his trip, Sanchez had spoken on the phone with King Mohammed VI who urged him to "consolidate the new stage of relations between Morocco and Spain", according to a statement from the Spanish premier's office.

Sanchez visited Morocco in April last year, drawing a line under a year-long diplomatic crisis that began easing after Madrid reversed decades of neutrality on the Western Sahara conflict to back Morocco's position.

In March last year, Madrid announced a "new stage" in relations and said it backed the North African kingdom's plan for the Western Sahara of limited autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.

King Mohammed has invited Sanchez for a higher profile state visit in future to "reinforce the positive dynamic" in their ties, according to a palace statement.

After resuming cooperation with the kingdom, Spain's interior ministry reported that arrivals of irregular migrants on its territory from Morocco were down by a quarter last year compared to 2021.

Both countries faced criticism from rights groups after at least 23 migrants died during a mass attempt to enter Spain's Melilla enclave on the North African coast in June 2022.

Morocco has also denied accusations of corruption involving European Parliament members. Rabat is also considered an ally in the fight against extremism.

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