WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - May 20, 2015) - Morocco's King Mohammed VI today began a four-nation tour of West and Central Africa, with visits planned to Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, and Guinea Bissau.

The trip comes less than a year after a similar tour, during which the King visited Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Gabon and presided over the signing of more than 80 bilateral agreements on trade, agriculture, water, energy, and job training, among other areas. The King had also visited Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, and Gabon in March 2013.

Morocco has taken a number of steps to strengthen ties with its African neighbors over the past several years, among them establishing an innovative program in late 2013 to train imams from across the continent, including from Mali, Libya, Tunisia, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, the Maldives, and Nigeria. In March 2015, the King formally opened the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidines, and Morchidates in Rabat, which will welcome students from Morocco, Africa, and the Middle East to promote religious moderation and tolerance in the region.

Ambassador Michael Battle, US Department of State, has said of Morocco's diplomatic efforts, "Morocco is showing the way within the framework of an approach that doesn't recognize artificial differences between North and Sub-Saharan Africa." Battle, who served as senior advisor to the August 2014 US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, where Morocco had a strong presence, said, "Morocco is setting the pace by showing how African countries which are prosperous can be responsive to African countries which are in the process of becoming prosperous."

On the sidelines of the third US-Morocco Strategic Dialogue held in Washington last month, Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding with the Millennium Challenge Corporation "with the goal of reducing poverty in Africa, including a focus on promoting adoption of new technologies and innovative business models to promote entrepreneurship." The agreement noted that "Morocco has historical, cultural and economic links with several African countries in which MCC is engaged. Morocco's technical capabilities, distinctive experience and competencies in a range of productive sectors and systems may provide useful experience for development efforts supported by MCC funding."

"Morocco has become a recognized leader in promoting South-South cooperation," said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel, "And this latest tour is the continuation of King Mohammed's years-long efforts to promote peace, stability and prosperity in Africa. Given the US's strong relationship with Morocco, and that Morocco is the only country in Africa with which the US has a Free Trade Agreement, the US should continue to look to Morocco as a conduit for effective economic and cultural diplomacy on the continent."

The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.

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