February 1, 2023

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna arrived in Rabat on Thursday evening for a visit aimed at restoring warmth between the two countries, which have been chilled for months, and in preparation for President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the Kingdom early next year. Agence France-Presse journalists.

Relations between the two traditional allies have cooled in recent months, especially after Paris’ decision in September 2021 to halve the number of visas granted to Morocco and Algeria, citing the two countries’ refusal to take back illegal migrants whom Paris wants to deport. .

This decision, which Rabat then called “unjustified”, was condemned by human rights activists, intellectuals and local media.

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Claire Legendre said Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita will receive his French counterpart on Friday in Rabat and is expected to “consider the exceptional bilateral partnership between Morocco and France in all its aspects.”

Legendre clarified that the issue of visas would also be raised, without specifying whether he would announce the lifting of the restrictions imposed by Paris.

Macron is expected to visit Morocco “within the first three months” of next year, with no official date yet.

Relations between the two countries have also dominated the Sahara dossier, with Rabat urging Paris to recognize its sovereignty over the region, as the US did in late 2020, in an agreement that also called for the normalization of Moroccan relations with Israel.

There is the issue of accusing Morocco, in an investigation published by international media last summer, of using the Israeli Pegasus app to target the phones of French politicians, including President Macron. This accusation was flatly denied by Rabat, and lawsuits were filed against the newspapers that published it in France.

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