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Historic defence agreement between Morocco and the United States

During the tour of North Africa, Mark Esper, head of the Pentagon, and the Moroccan authorities signed a "road map" for defence cooperation
The US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper (L) signed a military cooperation agreement with Morocco's Minister Delegate for National Defence Abdellatif Loudiyi (R) on 2 October 2020 in the capital Rabat.

PHOTO/AFP  -   The US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper (L) signed a military cooperation agreement with Morocco's Minister Delegate for National Defence Abdellatif Loudiyi (R) on 2 October 2020 in the capital Rabat.

Morocco and the United States signed a military defence agreement on Friday in Rabat, which both parties described as "historic".

The signing of the treaty, which has been called the 'Roadmap for Defence Cooperation 2020-2030 between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States of America', coincided with the visit of the US Secretary of State for Defence, Mark Esper.

The head of the Pentagon began a tour of North Africa this week in countries such as Algeria and Tunisia to discuss the instability in the Sahel and the fight against the Jihadist groups that are spreading across northern Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Chad, southern Tunisia and Algeria, as well as the conflictive region of Lake Chad and the war in Libya.

The agreement signed between Washington and Rabat paves the way for full cooperation in the strategic military field, the acquisition of weapons and equipment, military training in all sectors and intelligence between the two countries, according to the Moroccan daily, Le 360.

El Secretario de Defensa de EE.UU. Mark Esper (L) se reúne con Nasser Bourita (R), Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores y Cooperación Internacional de Marruecos, en la capital Rabat el 2 de octubre de 2020.
PHOTO/AFP- US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (L) meets Nasser Bourita (R), Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Morocco, in the capital Rabat on 2 October 2020.

Present at the signing were the minister delegate in charge of the National Defence Administration, Abdellatif Loudiyi; the foreign minister, Nasser Bourita; and the US head of defence, Mark Esper.

Esper recalled the close and long-standing collaboration between Rabat and Washington, "for a long time", and pointed out that Morocco was the first country to recognise independence from the USA: "The Kingdom of Morocco is a leading country in military matters. This agreement effectively draws up a roadmap for consolidating bilateral cooperation", the senior US official said during the press conference.

For his part, Mr Bourita wished to stress "Morocco's role as a guarantor of regional peace and security in a highly volatile geostrategic environment".

Washington is the main supplier of weapons and military equipment to the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces (FAR), and once a year, except in 2020 owing to the pandemic, the US Army's Africa Corps holds manoeuvres on Moroccan territory that are among the most important in terms of the resources mobilised.

El jefe del Pentágono, Mark Esper
PHOTO/AFP-Pentagon chief Mark Esper

According to the official agency MAP, during Esper's visit to the FAR headquarters, Loudyi proposed that the US should invest in Morocco in the defence industry sector "in order to promote technology transfer and strategic autonomy in Morocco".