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India, Morocco to sign defence agreements

India and Morocco are to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of defence cooperation as both countries look to increase bilateral ties and extend their strategic partnership.

According to the Economic Times, the MoU was decided last week when India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar held an online meeting with Morocco's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita.

The two diplomats discussed issues of common interest including political and economic relations and agreed to expedite the signing of the MoU on defence cooperation and the Cultural Exchange Programme.

They also planned future bilateral events, including the seventh session of the Joint Coorperation Commission and the fifth session of bilateral political consultations.

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Relations between New Delhi and Rabat have developed over the years following Morocco's King Mohammed VI's visit to India five years ago, where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Following the royal visit, several agreements and bilateral ministerial visits took place, resulting in over 40 agreements and MoUs.

Morocco World News reports that Bourita took the opportunity to invite Indian investors to take advantage of the opportunities in Morocco and to promote the transfer of technology know-how. In the tourism sector, both ministers also agreed to consider an electronic visa system to simplify procedures for visitors to and from both countries.

The challenges in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic were also discussed. Jaishankar thanked Bourita for Rabat's support for the repatriation of Indian nationals stranded in Morocco amid the suspension of international flights in the wake of the pandemic. Bourita, for his part, conveyed his government's appreciation for New Delhi's decision to enable commercial exports of medicines.

According to the Eurasian Times, Morocco's achievements and its approach to combatting violent extremism and terrorism within its borders and its proximity to countries like Libya are of particular interest to India as it seeks to improve its own anti-terror strategies.

In 2018, Moroccan Justice Minister Mohamed Auajjar told the Economic Times that "Morocco has a well-established school of counter-terrorism, which is globally recognised. We have counter-terror cooperation including bilateral legal arrangements with major countries to fight terror. Given the expansion in ties with India and mutual interest, we decided to sign these treaties with Delhi, taking our counter-terror partnership to the next level."

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