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UK, Morocco to boost security cooperation in Med and Sahel

Moroccan military in Rabat, Morocco on 22 March 2020 [FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images]
Moroccan military in Rabat, Morocco on 22 March 2020 [FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images]

Moroccan and British military officials yesterday discussed the security situation in the Mediterranean and Sahel regions during a meeting in the capital Rabat amid plans to strengthen defence ties.

Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita received the British Minister of the Armed Forces James Heappey who was accompanied by the British Ambassador to Morocco Simon Martin and the UK's Defence Senior Adviser for the Middle East, Lieutenant General John Lorimer.

Heappey also met with the Minister Delegate for National Defence Administration Abdeltif Loudyi, the Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces Lieutenant General Abdelfettah Louarak and the Commander of the Royal Gendarmerie Lieutenant General Mohamed Haramou.

According to a statement from the Moroccan foreign ministry, the two countries will focus on "reciprocal support, training, organisation of combines exercises, and exchange of visits and information".

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Military cooperation between the UK and Morocco is governed in accordance with the Framework Agreement for Military and Technical Cooperation, which both countries signed in 1993 in addition to an agreement on Status of Forces signed in 2013.

Talks between Heappey and Loudyi welcomed the "historic relations" between the two kingdoms and revolved around regional security in particular on the Mediterranean area and the Sahel-Sahara strip. Also discussed was cooperation in the area of cyber-security and cyber-defence.

Earlier this month, the UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel said the region experienced "a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets" in recent months. Rabat has previously expressed concerns over the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel amid an uptick in terrorist attacks. Morocco is also a key transit route for migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa attempting to reach the EU.

Heappey's visit to Morocco comes a couple weeks after Lieutenant General Lorimer's who arrived last month to discuss strengthening military relations with the Moroccan Armed Forces. Last month also saw Morocco sign a military cooperation agreement with India amid growing bilateral ties and strategic partnerships between the two countries.

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