Today Vice President Joseph Biden met with King Mohammed VI in Fez at an audience attended by diplomatic and political leaders from both countries. The meeting comes almost exactly one year after King Mohammed VI met with President Barack Obama at the White House in November 2013; and coincides with the opening today in Marrakech of the fifth Global Entrepreneurship Summit, at which the Vice President is slated to deliver the keynote address.
According to a White House readout of the meeting, the two leaders “reaffirmed the strategic alliance between the United States and Morocco” and the countries’ “enduring friendship, which dates back more than 236 years,” and “discussed how best to support Morocco’s success, and reaffirmed their dedication to work together to promote human and economic development, including through vocational training and educational exchange.”
Security was a top priority at the meeting, as the two leaders discussed “efforts to advance the shared priority of achieving a secure, stable, and prosperous Maghreb, Africa, and Middle East,” and Moroccan and US efforts “as part of the international coalition against ISIL.” According to the readout, they “agreed on the importance of the non-military aspects of the struggle against violent extremism, including exposing and discrediting violent extremist recruitment and providing a compelling alternative through social and political inclusion and economic opportunity.”
In a press briefing in advance of the meeting, a senior US administration official had remarked, “Morocco is a very important partner in the anti-ISIL coalition…. The Vice President will also be eager to hear the King’s thoughts on the broader efforts to counter violent extremism, an area where Morocco has a lot of experience.” He had noted that since the Arab Spring, Morocco has been “at the leading edge of getting out in front of regional unrest through political reform efforts.”
King Mohammed VI and Vice President Biden also discussed recent developments in Libya and elsewhere in the region, including the issue of the Western Sahara conflict. Vice President Biden reaffirmed the November 2013 Joint Statement between the United States and Morocco that US policy toward the Western Sahara—for a solution based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty— “has remained consistent for many years,” and that “Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible.”
According to the readout, “The Vice President thanked King Mohammed VI for hosting the fifth Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakech, and both agreed on the importance of promoting economic opportunity, especially for women and young people.” On Thursday, Vice President Biden will give the keynote speech at the Summit.
The meeting was attended on the US side by US Ambassador to Morocco Dwight L. Bush, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson, Senior Director for North Africa Eric Pelofsky, and Senior Advisor to National Security Advisor Daniel Benaim. From the Moroccan side, Adviser to the King Fouad Ali El Himma, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Salaheddine Mezouar, and Moroccan Ambassador to the US Rachad Bouhlal attended.