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Cohen Renews U.S.-Morocco Ties

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

RABAT, Morocco, Oct. 7, 1998 – Morocco was the first nation to recognize the United States, in 1787, and it has been a steadfast friend and security partner, Defense Secretary William Cohen said here during a recent visit.

"Our two countries have been partners for more than 200 years, working together in both war and peace," Cohen said. "Morocco and the United States are good friends and loyal partners, and we will continue to work together for peace and stability."

Cohen met with Moroccan King Hassan II and Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed, commander-in-chief of the Arab nation's armed forces. During the meeting, the secretary delivered a letter from President Clinton expressing U.S. commitment to reinvigorating, strengthening, America's "very long and productive" relationship with the North African nation between the two countries.

Morocco hosted U.S. air forces during the Cold War; the United States has no military assets there now. U.S. forces, however, continue to work and train with Moroccan counterparts in about five training exercises and two defense conferences a year. U.S. and Moroccan troops currently serve among NATO-led stabilization forces in Bosnia and previously worked together during Desert Storm and in Somalia.

After his meeting at Hassan's beachside palace, one of about a dozen royal abodes, Cohen praised the monarch's work toward advancing stability, particularly his support for the Middle East peace process.

"I want to commend his majesty for his courage, wisdom and his enduring friendship and leadership in regional and international affairs," the secretary said. Hassan has ruled Morocco since 1961, when he succeeded his father.

During their talks, Cohen said, the two discussed Mediterranean and European security matters and mutual concerns over transnational terrorism. "We discussed ways in which we can cooperate in the fight against terrorism and the effort to control the spread of weapons of mass destruction," Cohen said.

The secretary's visit to Morocco Sept. 28 and 29 was the first by a U.S. Cabinet-level official since 1986, when then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger paid a call.

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