News / USA

Obama, Moroccan King Discuss Regional Security, Democratic Reforms

President Barack Obama meets with Morocco's King Mohammed VI, Nov. 22, 2013, in the Oval Office of the White House.
President Barack Obama meets with Morocco's King Mohammed VI, Nov. 22, 2013, in the Oval Office of the White House.
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed King Mohammed VI of Morocco to the White House Friday for talks on reforms in his country, and regional issues including cooperation against extremism in North Africa.  The issue of Western Sahara also was on the agenda.

Only photographers were briefly permitted into the Oval Office, where Obama and King Mohammed smiled and shook hands for the cameras.

A joint written statement said they discussed "the opportunity to map out a new and ambitious plan for the strategic partnership" and advancing shared priorities of a secure, stable, and prosperous Maghreb, Africa, and Middle East.

On democratic reforms in Morocco, the statement said they discussed the "promise of Morocco's 2011 constitution and ways the United States can help strengthen Morocco's democratic institutions, civil society and inclusive governance."

Obama, according to the statement, welcomed the king's commitment to end the practice of military trials of civilians and both reaffirmed their commitment to the U.N. human rights system.

They also discussed the threat of violent extremism in the region, and pledged to deepen civilian and military cooperation in counterterrorism and non-proliferation.

On Western Sahara, they affirmed their shared commitment to improving the lives of the people of the Western Sahara and agreed to work together to continue to protect and promote human rights in the territory.  

Obama pledged to continue to support efforts to find a peaceful, sustainable, mutually agreed-upon solution to the Western Sahara question.   

"Our position has remained consistent for many years," said press secretary Jay Carney. "The U.S. has made clear that Morocco's autonomy plan is serious, realistic and credible and that it represents a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity."

Human rights organizations have urged Obama to do more to encourage respect for human rights in Morocco and Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony Morocco forcibly annexed in 1975.

Morocco has continued to seek international recognition of its annexation of Western Sahara, where a U.N. referendum on independence called for under a 1988 cease-fire has been put off for decades.

Eric Goldstein, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, says Morocco likes to present itself as a model for stability in a region of upheaval, but needs to replace rhetoric with action.

"There is a lot of talk of reform in Morocco, a lot of commissions and speeches and studies," he said. "But on the ground, the human rights situation remains mixed, there are political prisoners, there are demonstrations that are violently dispersed by the police, there are harassment of activists who work for Sahrawi self-determination and other issues.  We think that Morocco could do a lot more if it is serious about reform."

A separate White House release called Morocco one of America's closest counterterrorism partners in the Middle East and North Africa region and praised it for implementing a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy.

The White House also praised Morocco's contributions to international peacekeeping operations in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d’Ivoire, and the NATO KFOR mission in Kosovo.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs