Rabat: French President Emmanuel Macron was in Morocco on Wednesday on a 24-hour visit for talks on battling terrorism as well as the Libyan conflict and Qatar’s dispute with its Gulf neighbours.
As he stepped off the plane for his first visit to Morocco since his election in May, the French president, his wife Brigitte at his side, was welcomed on the tarmac by King Mohammad.
The king’s wife, Princess Lalla Salma, and Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, 14, were also present at the airport to greet the French first couple, who were then driven to the royal palace for an hour of talks.
At a press conference following the talks, Macron said both France and Morocco were keen on mediating a solution to the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.
“The king of Morocco shares our concern: France would like to see the countries talking again and for the Gulf to remain stable, not least because these states are stakeholders in the crises in Syria and Libya,” he said.
The French president also touched on recent unrest in Morocco’s northern Rif region, where dozens have been arrested as protesters clash with police over corruption and unemployment.
“The Moroccan king is concerned about the future of this region ... the king believes it is legitimate for protests to take place and they are protected in the constitution,” Macron said.
Also on Macron’s agenda was the conflict in Libya, where the UN-backed government is struggling to impose its legitimacy.
The fight against radicalisation and terrorism would be at the centre of the talks between the two leaders, and Paris would like to “intensify” cooperation in that field, a French diplomatic source said ahead of the visit.
Moroccans, or people of Moroccan origin, are believed to be behind several attacks that have been carried out in Europe in the past two years.
After the talks Macron and his wife attended an iftar meal, to end the Ramadan fast, at the king’s personal residency. The French president will spend the night in Rabat before flying back home on Thursday.