Morocco says German president invites king to 'seal new partnership'

Morocco says German president invites king to 'seal new partnership'
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Germany's president has invited Morocco's king to visit him to mend relations after a diplomatic crisis that froze relations
Steinmeier’s message follows a recent rapprochement between the two nations [Getty- archive]

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has invited Morocco's King Mohammed VI to visit him to mend relations after a diplomatic crisis that froze relations, Rabat said Wednesday.

The head of state sent a message inviting the Moroccan king to undertake "a state visit to Germany" in order to "seal a new partnership between the two countries," the royal cabinet said in a statement.

The message follows a recent rapprochement between the two nations, with Morocco's foreign ministry announcing last month that the kingdom "appreciates... constructive positions" taken by the new German government of Olaf Scholz.

Scholz became Germany's new chancellor on December 8, and days later Berlin's foreign ministry called Morocco an "important link between North and South, politically, culturally and economically".

Rabat in March said it was suspending contacts with the German embassy in the North African kingdom over "deep misunderstandings" on "issues fundamental for Morocco".

In May, it announced the recall of its ambassador for consultations and accused Germany of unspecified "hostile acts".

Germany's criticism of former US president Donald Trump's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara was among the apparent points of friction.

But Berlin also said its position on the status of Western Sahara had not changed for decades.

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Morocco controls most of Western Sahara, which it views as its own territory. Rabat fought a 15-year war with the Polisario Front independence movement after Spain withdrew from its former colony in 1975.

A United Nations-monitored ceasefire deal provided for a referendum, but Morocco has since rejected any vote that includes independence as an option, offering only limited autonomy.

Tensions over the region have risen in recent months, with the Polisario saying it would step up military operations, and diplomatic ties cut between Morocco and Algeria, the Polisario's main backer.

In December last year, Morocco renewed official relations with Israel while Washington recognised Rabat's sovereignty over Western Sahara, in one of a series of normalisation deals brokered by the Trump administration.

Morocco has had generally good relations with Germany, which provides it with a substantial amount of financial aid. Berlin is one of Rabat's main trading partners.