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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Edward S. Walker, Jr.
Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs

Departure Statement at Mohammed V International Airport
Casablanca, Morocco, February 5, 2000

This has been my first visit to Morocco as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and I appreciate the warm welcome I have received here. I look forward to visiting again and continuing to build on the strong relationship between our two countries.

During this brief visit, I had very productive and positive meetings with His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Prime Minister Youssoufi, and Foreign Minister Benaissa. I have been very impressed by the commitment to reform and democracy of King Mohammed VI and the government of the Prime Minister. Morocco is on the right path when it comes to economic reform, the rule of law, human rights and democracy, and the U.S. wants to work in partnership with Morocco in making progress in these areas. We also appreciate Morocco's positive role in the Middle East peace process, as witnessed by this country's recent hosting of a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy.

The United States and Morocco share a common objective in building a more prosperous, stable, and democratic Morocco and Middle East. Regional prosperity and stability are also significant areas for cooperation. I am honored to be part of this process and I look forward to working with His Majesty King Mohammed VI and the government of Prime Minister Youssoufi in pursuing our common goals.

Question: Can you tell us more about your visit and what you have done here in Morocco?

Assistant Secretary Walker: We have had an excellent visit. It has been a long time since I have been here and it was very instructive to come back. I was honored to have a very constructive and helpful meeting with His Majesty the King. We have a long and strong relationship with Morocco, and it is gratifying to see that the relationship is even stronger today than it has been in the past.

I brought the greetings of the President and the Secretary of State to His Majesty, and expressed the fact that they are very impressed with the approach he has been taking and the direction in which Morocco has been moving. I pledged our support for His Majesty the King's efforts now and in the future. We discussed a full range of issues, including the Middle East peace process, to the relationships of the countries in the Maghreb, to the implementation of the Eizenstat Initiative.

I was truly impressed with his courage and his dedication and I know we will have a successful partnership in the future.

Question: Concerning the Eizenstat Initiative, is there anything new to report?

Assistant Secretary Walker: We will have a meeting of the Initiative in May when the IMF meetings will be held in Washington. We plan in the meantime to put together a concrete plan of action for the next year. We look forward to examining and encouraging opportunities for foreign direct investment in Morocco, particularly from American companies during the course of the next year. We also will be helping Morocco in its efforts to undertake economic reforms that are needed to open up Morocco to the benefits of significant foreign direct investment and globalization.

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