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Rumsfeld Thanks Moroccan Leaders for Counterterrorism Cooperation

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

IFRANE, Morocco, Feb. 13, 2006 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld thanked Moroccan leaders last night and today for Morocco's cooperation in counterterrorism efforts.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (left) meets with Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Benaissa after an arrival ceremony in Rabat, Morocco, Feb. 12. Rumsfeld is on a tour of several North African countries after attending the NATO Ministerial Conference in Taormina, Italy, Feb. 9 and 10. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, USN

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Rumsfeld met with King Mohammed VI at the king's mountain retreat here today to wrap up a three-day visit to North Africa designed to strengthen the military relationships between the United States and Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

The king is Morocco's head of state and also serves as the country's defense minister. Earlier, the secretary held talks with Prime Minister Driss Jettou, Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa, Deputy Defense Minister Abderrahmane Sbai and other government officials.

"We've had an excellent trip to Morocco," Rumsfeld said. "We've had a longstanding treaty of friendship with Morocco since, I believe, 1787 - a very longstanding relationship, and a very positive and constructive one."

The Treaty of Peace and Friendship negotiated in 1787 between the United States and Morocco and renegotiated in 1836 is still in force. It's the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history, State Department officials said.

In June 2004, the two countries signed a comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement, and Morocco was designated a major non-NATO ally of the United States. U.S. Navy ships make scheduled port visits in Morocco, and the country allows coordinated access by U.S. forces to its facilities, air space and territorial waters.

Rumsfeld said he told Morocco's leaders how much the United States appreciates their cooperation in the counterterrorism effort.

"It is important," he said. "It is a danger to the world that can only be dealt with by the very close cooperation of a great many countries, and the thoughtfulness and energy that they put into these activities makes a big difference to our success and to their success."

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