Pompeo visits Morocco in first since Trump election

1 / 4
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)
2 / 4
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)
3 / 4
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)
4 / 4
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.


Iran backtracks on plan to send flight recorders to Ukraine

Updated 7 min 31 sec ago

Iran backtracks on plan to send flight recorders to Ukraine

  • An Iranian official said “the flight recorders from the Ukrainian Boeing are in Iranian hands and we have no plans to send them out”
  • He said Iran is working to recover the data and cabin recordings, and that it may send the flight recorders to Ukrain or France

TEHRAN: The Iranian official leading the investigation into the Ukrainian jetliner that was accidentally shot down by the Revolutionary Guard appeared to backtrack Sunday on plans to send the flight recorders abroad for analysis, a day after saying they would be sent to Kyiv.
Hassan Rezaeifar was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency as saying “the flight recorders from the Ukrainian Boeing are in Iranian hands and we have no plans to send them out.”
He said Iran is working to recover the data and cabin recordings, and that it may send the flight recorders — commonly known as black boxes — to Ukraine or France. “But as of yet, we have made no decision.”
The same official was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday as saying the recorders would be sent to Ukraine, where French, American and Canadian experts would help analyze them. Iranian officials previously said the black boxes were damaged but are usable.
It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting accounts. Iran may be hesitant to turn over the recorders for fear that more details from the crash — including the harrowing 20 seconds between when the first and second surface-to-air missiles hit the plane — will come to light.
The Guard’s air defenses shot the plane down shortly after it took off from Tehran on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people on board. Hours earlier, the Guard had launched ballistic missiles at US troops in Iraq in response to the US airstrike that killed Iran’s top general in Baghdad. Officials say lower-level officers mistook the plane for a US cruise missile.
Iranian officials initially said the crash was caused by a technical problem and invited countries that lost citizens to help investigate. Three days later, Iran admitted responsibility after Western leaders said there was strong evidence the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile.
The victims included 57 Canadian citizens as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens. Most of those killed were Iranians. The other five nations have demanded Iran accept full responsibility and pay compensation to the victims’ families.
The plane was a Boeing 737-800 that was designed and built in the US The plane’s engine was designed by CFM International, a joint company between French group Safran and US group GE Aviation. Investigators from both countries have been invited to take part in the probe.