Morocco: Hollande to Morocco to Back Reforms, Boost Economic Cooperation

Rabat — French President Francois Hollande's first visit to Morocco, on April 3-4, is being carefully planned for by French and Moroccan business circles. Hollande will land in Casablanca, not Rabat, accompanied by French business leaders, all hand-picked by the French employers' organisation Medef International.

This visit comes at a very crucial juncture for the French Republic which launched on January a military intervention against the extremist militant groups, affiliated with AQIM, to recapture the northern part of Mali. Morocco supported the French intervention in Mali to fight terrorism in the Sahel and the Sahara region.

Analysts have noted that the visit carries a political and economic nature, as France seeks to develop its relations with its biggest trading partner outside the European Union.

In a speech delivered by Moroccan head of government, Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane, before the OIC Summit in Egypt, King Mohammed VI commended the French "firm reaction which made it possible to check the invasion of Southern Mali and to put an end to it."

The spokesman of the French foreign minister, Philippe Lalliot at a press briefing carried by MAP news agency expressed France warm thanks to "King Mohammed VI who commended in his speech at the OIC the rapid and efficient intervention of African and French troops against the terrorist threat."

The state visit is also an opportunity to strengthen the solid friendship bonds between the two brotherly nations and to highlight the long standing and special partnership that marked their relations for decades.

In this occasion, the two Heads of States will discuss regional and international issues of common interest, especially the ongoing war on Mali and the threat of security in the Sahel region.

The Sahara conflict is likely to be discussed in relation to the latest developments on the grounds, notably that the Security Council of the United Nations will hold its yearly session for the possibility to extend the MINURSO mandate.

It is worth noting that this is not the first meeting between the two Heads of States.

King Mohammed VI held a private visit to France on May 24, 2012, and was the first Head of State welcomed by François Hollande at the presidential palace since the inauguration of the latter on May 15, 2012.

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