London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Moroccan monarch King Mohammed VI is set to conduct an official state visit to Washington on November 13, 2013, following an invitation from US President Barack Obama, sources in Washington and Rabat informed Asharq Al-Awsat.
This will be the monarch’s first official visit to the US capital since Obama took office in 2008. The two leaders are set to discuss the issue of the western Sahara and bilateral relations between Rabat and Washington.
Morocco has historically been a strategic ally for the United States, however, relations have cooled since Obama arrived at the White House.
Rabat–Washington ties reached a low point earlier this year when Washington issued a proposal to the UN Security Council for extending the scope of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in order to address human rights violations.
However, Obama telephoned King Mohammed VI on May 9, reversing some of the misunderstanding and controversy raised by the US proposal.
This phone call was prompted by a letter from King Mohammed VI to the US President on April 12, 2013, in which he underlined the importance of the Western Sahara issue to the Kingdom of Morocco, and the risks raised by any alteration in the mandate of MINURSO.
A statement released by the Moroccan Royal Court following the May phone call noted that the two heads of state hailed the positive results reached thanks to the exchange of letters, adding that King Mohammed VI thanked President Obama for his personal involvement, and for the clear instructions he issued to his own administration. The Royal Court statement affirmed that this represented proof of Obama’s attachment to excellent relations with Morocco.
During the phone call, the US president extended an invitation to King Mohammed VI to visit Washington, with the Moroccan monarch reciprocating the gesture.
Observers hope that King Mohammed VI’s forthcoming visit to Washington will “reset” relations between the US and Morocco, particularly as Rabat and Washington enjoyed close ties during the eras of George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
Morocco was the first Arab country to conclude a free trade agreement with the United States in 2006, and to become involved with Washington’s war on terrorism following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Morocco was also the first nation to formally recognize the United States after its independence in 1776, and the Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship was signed in 1786, which is considered the longest-running diplomatic agreement signed by the US.