Relations between India and Morocco go back to the 14th century when the famous traveller and writer from Tangier, Ibn Batuta travelled to India. In modern history, India was active in the UN supporting the Moroccan freedom movement and recognized Morocco on June 20, 1956 when it became independent of the protectorate arrangements with France. Diplomatic Missions were established in 1957. Over the years, India and Morocco have enjoyed cordial and friendly relations and bilateral ties have witnessed significant growth. India’s Vice President Dr. Zakir Hussain visited Morocco in 1967. King Mohammed VI, when he was Crown Prince, visited India to participate in the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in 1983 and, later in 2001 and in 2003, as the King of Morocco. King Mohammed VI also visited India from 25 October to 4 November 2015 to participate in the “Third India-Africa Forum Summit 2015” held in New Delhi. Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Rabat in 1999. Visits at Ministerial and official level have taken place regularly between the two sides.
External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar held a virtual meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates of the Kingdom of Morocco Mr. Nasser Bourita. Both sides agreed that bilateral relations have acquired considerable depth and vitality following the landmark visit of King Mohammed VI, in October 2015 for the third India-Africa Forum Summit. Exchange of 23 Ministerial visits and conclusion of over 40 MoUs and Agreements in a range of sectors such as IT, education, culture, agriculture, mutual legal assistance, extradition, etc. since then are a testament to the strong desire on the part of both sides to take bilateral ties to a higher plane. External Affairs Minister conveyed India’s commendation for the Moroccan King’s visionary leadership in steering Morocco on the path of economic progress and prosperity.
Positively assessing the growth in trade and investment relations, both Ministers noted, in particular, the close cooperation in fertilizers, textiles, pharmaceuticals, automobiles and ICT sectors. They further agreed that the MOUs/ Agreements concluded in the last two years in the fields of cyber security, counter terrorism and space provide strong frameworks for building the foundation of a strong and comprehensive relationship. The Ministers agreed that both sides should expedite the finalisation of the MOU on defence cooperation and the Cultural Exchange Programme so that these can be signed on an early date.
The two sides discussed respective national approaches to deal with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Jaishankar thanked Mr. Bourita for the Moroccan Government’s support for the repatriation of Indian nationals stranded in Morocco due to the suspension of international flights in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Bourita, in turn, conveyed his Government’s appreciation for India’s facilitation of commercial exports of medicines during this critical time.
The two Ministers had an in-depth exchange of views on regional and global issues, including UN reforms, international fight against terrorism, climate change, renewable energy and cooperation under the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) mechanism.
Responding to Mr. Bourita’s briefing on the developments in Libya, including at the recent intra-Libyan dialogue in Bouznika, External Affairs Minister commended Morocco’s resolute and constructive engagement with all the Libyan parties since the beginning of the crisis, and its contribution to the UN efforts aimed at finding a peaceful resolution through a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people while preserving the country’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.
Mr. Bourita congratulated India on its election to the non-permanent seat of the UNSC for the term 2021-2022 and also conveyed the Moroccan Government’s support for India’s permanent membership in an extended United Nations Security Council. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the ongoing close coordination between the two countries at various international organizations, including the United Nations.
Dr. Jaishankar expressed India’s support to the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General aimed at achieving a realistic, lasting, mutually negotiated and acceptable political solution to the Sahara issue and noted the efforts of the Kingdom of Morocco in this direction.
External Affairs Minister reiterated his invitation to Mr. Bourita to visit India when the situation permits, which was accepted with pleasure by the Moroccan Foreign Minister.
Script: Padam Singh, AIR: News Analyst