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Moroccan PM After his Visit to Mauritania: Every Cloud has a Silver Lining | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane speaks during an interview with Reuters in his house in Rabat, Morocco, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Nouakchott – Morocco and Mauritania began a new chapter after the relationship between the two countries faced some problems following statements of secretary-general of Istiqlal Party Hamid Chabat saying that Mauritania had originally been part of Morocco and is a “Moroccan territory.”

Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane has described Chabat’s remarks as “irresponsible”, stressing the two countries’ “solid” bilateral ties.

The Moroccan King Mohammed VI asked Benkirane “to clear up any misunderstanding that could have a negative impact on the excellent relations between Morocco and Mauritania.”

Benkirane’s statements came following his meeting with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in Zouerate.

During a press conference held Wednesday morning after Benkirane’s meeting with President Abdel Aziz, the PM stated that “every cloud has a silver lining,” meaning bad situations often have a positive component.

The PM continued his remarks, adding that ties between Morocco and Mauritania are solid and powerful, and that they will be more developed in the future.

Speaking on behalf of King Mohammed VI, Benkirane stated that “King Mohammed VI pays special attention to the development of the two countries’ relations and there is no doubt that Mauritania is the sister country of the Kingdom of Morocco and has a special place in the heart of Morocco, with both sharing the same religion, language and history.”

Benkirane reiterated that Chabat’s statement is irresponsible and does not parallel Morocco’s diplomacy.

“Chabat’s statement reflects his personal opinion and not the opinion of the King or the government and Moroccan people,” he said during his speech.

Benkirane went on to conclude that: “Future ties between the two countries will be more consolidated in order for Mauritanian citizens to feel that they have all the rights and everything is accessible for them in Morocco and the same being true for Moroccans in Mauritania.”

Benkirane left Mauritania, while Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, remained to complete the rest of the royal mission.

Bourita will meet a number of Mauritanian officials in line with the two countries’ efforts to revamp their relations.

Observers said that the Moroccan PM’s visit to Mauritania was successful, given that the Mauritanian President cut his vacation short to welcome the PM himself.

Earlier, King Mohammed and President Abdel Aziz had a telephone conversation to overcome the ‘misunderstanding’ that was caused by Chabat’s statements.

During the phone call, the king reiterated to the president his unwavering support and friendship, as well as his attachment to the good neighborliness and solidarity between the two countries.

The Moroccan king also reassured the president that Morocco recognizes the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, pursuant to international law.

Furthermore, the two leaders expressed their determination to preserve this relation against any attempt seeking to undermine it, regardless of its origin and motives.

Also, Moroccan foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing Chabat’s comments saying they disrespect Mauritanian territory and unity.

Meanwhile, several Mauritanian political parties and civil communities welcomed the visit of the PM to avoid a diplomatic crisis with their country. They assured that this step reveals the Moroccan diplomatic maturity and ensures good relations between the neighboring countries.