France and Morocco restore relations after months of visa tensions

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France and Morocco announced on Friday they were mending fences after months of visa tensions, and said President Emmanuel Macron would visit the North African kingdom in early 2023.

Speaking in Rabat alongside him Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said it was time “to write a new page together”.

The two countries have been at loggerheads since September 2021, when Paris halved its visa quota for Moroccans in retaliation for the kingdom’s alleged refusal to repatriate citizens living in an irregular situation. immigrants in France.

The move sparked widespread public anger in Morocco and was called “unjustified” by Rabat.

But Colonna said the countries had returned to “full consular cooperation” since Monday.

French Interior Minister GĂ©rald Darmanin was due to arrive in Algeria, a neighboring country and Morocco’s arch-rival, on Friday to discuss similar visa issues.

Macron and Morocco King Mohammed VI spoke by phone on Wednesday night after their country’s dramatic clash in the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar, won by France 2-0.

Asked about the thorny issue of Western Saharathe two ministers played down any tensions.

Morocco considers the desert region part of its territory, but the Algerian-backed Polisario movement seeks an independent state.

King Mohammed reiterated in August that “the Sahara issue is the prism through which Morocco views its international environment”, demanding that governments “clarify” their position on the subject.

But Colonna said on Friday that the kingdom could “count on the support of France”.

Bourita added that Morocco had “never seen France’s position (on Western Sahara) as negative”.



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