Rabat – On the eve of the Throne Day, King Mohammed VI received congratulatory messages from several leaders, including US President Donald Trump.In his cable, the US President said that he is confident that the US and Morocco will reinforce their diplomatic ties in order to achieve in common areas in the interests of both countries.“I am confident that we will build on our free trade agreement [FTA], our strong security partnership and our diverse cultural and educational ties to ensure a safer and more prosperous future for our two peoples,” said the president. Trump also recalled that the US and Morocco promoted fair and reciprocal trade ties.The US and Morocco signed the FTA in 2004. It came into effect on January 1, 2006.Through the agreement, the US became itself as Morocco’s fourth largest trade partner.Since the agreement came into effect, bilateral trade between the two countries has increased by more than 250%. Trade activities, according to a the 2019 Investment Climate Statements, made the US Morocco’s fourth largest trading partner.In his message, Trump also expressed his country’s determination to continue the fight against extremism.Trump’s cable said that,”we still have a lot to accomplish together, notably the continuation of our fight against extremism in all its forms, the promotion of tolerance and religious understanding, the promotion of common priorities in Africa and the further development of the cultural link between our countries as a testimony of our friendship for more than 240 years.”Trump’s statement acknowledged Morocco’s leadership in countering extremism and terrorism at the national and international level.In September 2018, the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism asserted that Morocco has a “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that includes vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation.”
In a press release today, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) welcomed the announcement that Soco now joins Shell, Total and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) in pledges not to undertake extraction activities within the agencies’ World Heritage Sites.“The World Heritage Committee has always taken a very clear position that oil and mining exploration and exploitation are incompatible with the World Heritage status of natural sites on the World Heritage List,” said UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre Director Kishore Rao.“It is encouraging that this position is now more and more accepted in the oil and mining industry and is also used as a criterion for several large investment banks.“We hope that the Government of DRC will follow up on this commitment by SOCO and cancel all the oil exploration permits granted within the Virunga National Park, as requested also by the World Heritage Committee.”Soco, in a joint statement with the World Wildlife Fund agreed “not to undertake or commission any exploratory or other drilling within the legendary park unless UNESCO and the DRC Government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its World Heritage Status.”Soco further announced it would not conduct any operations in any other World Heritage site and would ensure that any current of future operations in buffer zones adjacent to World Heritage sites do not jeopardize the Outstanding Universal Value for which these sites are listed, UNESCO said. Famous as a home for the rare mountain gorilla, Virunga National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 for its exceptional diversity of ecosystems, ranging from snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountains to the wetlands of Lake Edward.The site was seriously impacted by the past years of conflict in the DRC. The site has also been on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 1994 due to the impact of the conflict in the Great Lakes region, and UNESCO recently condemned violence against wardens there, some 150 of whom have been attacked since 1996.