Rabat a ‘critical partner’ for US in counterterrorism, promoting tolerance and bolstering Arab world ties with the Jewish state, State Department official says
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media in the briefing room at the State Department, on November 26, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)
WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel next week to Morocco, seeing the kingdom as a partner in US regional goals including normalizing relations with Israel, officials said Wednesday.
Pompeo, the highest-level US visitor to Morocco since US President Donald Trump’s election, will arrive in Rabat on December 4 and meet with King Mohammed VI, the State Department said.
A State Department official said that Morocco was a “critical partner for us across the range of issues.”
“Morocco plays a great role across the region as an important partner in promoting tolerance (and) has these quiet ties and relationship with Israel as well,” the official told reporters, on customary condition of anonymity.
Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations to have signed peace treaties with Israel but Morocco, along with some Gulf states such as Bahrain, has been relaxing the Arab world’s decades-old boycott of the Jewish state.
Morocco has unofficially welcomed Israeli investors and tourists. Some 3,000 Jews live in Morocco, a fraction of the number from before the 1948 creation of Israel, but still the largest community in the Arab world.
The State Department official also called Morocco a “great counterterrorism partner,” including by bringing back nationals who joined the Islamic State group in Syria — the sort of repatriation resisted by European allies of the United States.
Pompeo will also visit NATO ally Portugal, where he will meet recently re-elected Prime Minister Antonio Costa on December 6, and earlier in the week join Trump at NATO’s 70th anniversary summit in London.