Pompeo visits Morocco in first since Trump election

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) during his visit to Rabat on December 5, 2019. (AFP)
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, accompanied by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, walk to meet the media before a private meeting at the Foreign Minestry in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP)
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) during the his visit to Rabat on December 5, 2019. (AFP)
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) during the his visit to Rabat on December 5, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2019

Pompeo visits Morocco in first since Trump election

  • Pompeo Moroccan met Interior Minister Abdellatif Hammouchi to discuss counter-terrorism efforts
  • The king of Morocco last month called for an end to “the policy of colonization in the occupied Palestinian territories” and reiterated his support for a two-state solution

RABAT: Top US diplomat Mike Pompeo visited Morocco on Thursday, the highest-ranking American official to travel there since the election of President Donald Trump.
Pompeo met his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita to discuss the “threat” posed by Iran’s attempts to “broaden its regional influence,” as well as the conflicts in Libya and unrest across the Sahel region, Bourita said in a statement.
The State Department has called Morocco an “essential partner” in Washington’s broader diplomatic strategy, which includes normalization of ties between Arab countries and Israel.
The visit followed Israeli media reports that the country’s officials were hoping for a “breakthrough” in normalizing ties with the North African country in the coming days.
Neither Pompeo nor Moroccan officials made any public mention of such efforts during his visit.
Egypt and Jordan remain the only Arab countries to have peace treaties and formal diplomatic ties with Israel.
“We have a great relationship between our two countries,” Pompeo said, as he began his meetings in Rabat. “We make our people safer in each of our two countries.”
The trip comes after Pompeo announced last month that the United States no longer considered Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.
The decision broke with decades of international consensus that the settlements are illegal and a major barrier to peace with the Palestinians.
The king of Morocco last month called for an end to “the policy of colonization in the occupied Palestinian territories” and reiterated his support for a two-state solution.
On Wednesday, Pompeo met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Portugal in talks dominated by policy on their arch-enemy Iran.
Pompeo said they “discussed efforts to counter Iran’s destabilising influence in the region, the importance of economic cooperation with regional partners and other issues related to Israel’s security.”
The US Secretary of State’s program was to include an audience with King Mohammed VI, but eventually the meeting was dropped, apparently due to Pompeo’s extended stay in Lisbon.
He did however meet Moroccan Interior Minister Abdellatif Hammouchi to discuss counter-terrorism efforts, before leaving for Washington on Thursday evening.


Erdogan under fire over plea for cash

Updated 14 min 35 sec ago

Erdogan under fire over plea for cash

  • The new fund replaces donation accounts set up by Erdogan’s political rivals

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of dodging his responsibilities by launching a nationwide donation campaign to help low-income earners struggling with the coronavirus outbreak.

The new fund replaces donation accounts set up by Erdogan’s political rivals in the Ankara and Istanbul municipalities, which were abruptly blocked by the Interior Ministry.

Many people prefer making donations to city mayors because it offers greater transparency on how their money is spent.

Erdogan’s new campaign, labeled “We are self-sufficient, Turkey,” called on Turkish citizens to make financial donations to a specific bank account. The president promised to donate seven months of his salary, and the Cabinet joined the appeal with a donation of more than $790,000.

“Our goal is to help those financially struggling, especially daily wage workers, due to the precautions taken against the outbreak,” Erdogan said.

But opposition IYI Party leader Meral Aksener said Erdogan’s “salary is not enough … instead he should donate the plane given to him by the Qatari emir.”

With thousands facing wage cuts or joblessness amid tightened measures to curb the outbreak, Erdogan’s call for nationwide donations has been widely criticized as an attempt to avoid government responsibility.

Other critics said that the donation campaign was a last resort to avoid asking for help from the International Monetary Fund because of Turkey’s economic problems.

Research analyst Sinem Adar said the campaign was motivated by Erdogan’s rivalry with the Istanbul and Ankara municipalities.