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Morocco king boycotts Africa summit over Netanyahu invite

King Mohammed VI cancelled his visit to avoid 'tension and controversy [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2017

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King Mohammad VI has canceled plans to attend a ECOWAS summit where Morocco's membership petition is expected to be discussed due to the presence of the Israeli PM.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI has cancelled plans to attend a West African summit this weekend in Liberia over the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the foreign ministry said late on Thursday.

The cancellation comes despite the North African kingdom's country hopes to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) following its readmission to the African Union after 33 years.

According to the ministry, the the king "wishes his first visit to a ECOWAS summit not take place in a context of tension and controversy".

The king's gesture will be echoed by other ECOWAS member states, who "have decided to reduce to the minimum their level of representation at the summit because they disagree with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu being invited", the ministry said in a statement.

Netanyahu is expected to head a large economic and diplomatic delegation that will participate in the summit on Sunday.

The leader's attendance is part of a re-opening of close engagement between Israel and the African continent that began in July last year, when Netanyahu became Israel's sitting prime minister to travel to Africa since Yitzhak Rabin's attendance of the Casablanca Middle East/North Africa Economic Summit in 1994.

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