Moroccan PM Benkirane in Paris as relations warm

Moroccan PM Benkirane in Paris as relations warm
2 min read
28 May, 2015
Analysis: Countries hold high-level meetings and put diplomatic row of last year behind them.
Benkirane led a delegation from Morocco in Paris (AFP)

As he visits Paris accompanied by a high-ranking ministerial delegation and key Moroccan businessmen and economists, Moroccan prime minister Abdelilah Benkirane has started a new chapter between his country and France, in a bid to consolidate reconciliation between the two countries.

Benkirane and Manuel Valls, his French counterpart, will lead a meeting at Hotel Matignon, his official residence, to sign agreements on social and economic projects, further boosting cooperation between the two countries.

Paris seeks to learn from Morocco's experience in hunting down terrorist networks as many French militants joining the ranks of groups in Iraq and Syria are of Moroccan origin. Benkirane and Valls are therefore expected to address cooperation in security and intelligence matters.

Paris also wants to benefit from Morocco' successful experience in regulating religious practices and fighting radical Islamist ideology.

Benkirane and Valls will approve draft French investment projects in Morocco that are planned to meet the country's demand for alternative and renewable energy, with Morocco launching a number of solar energy projects in the south of the country.

The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) are expected to sign an agreement to bring the solar projects forward.

An economic forum is also set to be held on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting bringing together Moroccan and French businessmen and the finance ministers of both countries. Around 400 businessmen are expected to attend the meeting to mull over joint economic projects and expand economic partnership, particularly at the level of small and medium-sized enterprises, as France remains Morocco's primary trade partner.

Benkirane's visit to Paris aims to consolidate the reconciliation that French president Francois Hollande initiated when he received Moroccan King Mohammad VI at the Elysee Palace on February 9.

The visit marked the end of a year-long diplomatic spat after Abdellatif Hammouchi, the head of the Moroccan secret services, was summoned by a French judge to testify on torture cases after multiple complaints by torture victims were made against him – something that angered the Moroccan king and led to the scrapping of security and judicial agreements between both countries.