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King’s Paris Visit Signals Possible Moroccan-French Rapprochement

King Mohammed VI arrived in Paris on Friday for a private visit, which might usher in a possible convergence of viewpoints between Morocco and France, according to informed sources.

Relations between the two countries were very strained of late due to President Emmanuel Macron’s policies, especially on the Sahara issue. All influential nations are currently showing support for Morocco, especially the USA, Spain, Israel, and even the UN which are championing Morocco’s autonomy plan. However, France, a long-standing ally and partner of the Kingdom, is refusing to embrace a more positive stance on the issue.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna had paid a visit to Morocco, back in December 2022, during which she announced the end of the visa crisis that France instigated by deciding, unilaterally, to halve the visas granted to Moroccan nationals. The move was made under the pretext that the Kingdom is reluctant to bring back its illegal citizens in the European country.

Colonna had also announced that Macron will be paying a visit to Morocco early 2023, something that never happened. However, Macron persisted in claiming that France and Morocco have “friendly” relations and will continue to do so. Things in reality were contradicting this assertion especially after the Pegasus scandal and how it was promoted by the French media.

Morocco was accused of using Pegasus spyware to hack into the cell phones of journalists and activists. The Renew party, which is dominated by the French presidential majority and has very close relations with the Élysée, played a huge part in the adoption of an anti-Moroccan human rights resolution at the European Parliament.

In fact, relations between the two Moroccan and French governments or between the Royal Palace and the Élysée were neither friendly, nor good, as an official Moroccan source had put it.

In his usual denial, Macron had claimed on Monday in a speech at the Ambassadors’ conference in Paris that France’s presence in Africa has not only contributed to countering terrorism, but also shaped the borders of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso as we know them now. With French influence declining all across Africa (including in Morocco and Algeria), Macron added that France is now seeking new partners on the continent. It would seem that Macron will also attempt to right some wrongs…