Esper’s North Africa tour is aimed at building new alliances and strengthening old ones
The United States has signed an accord to strengthen military cooperation with the North African kingdom which Washington considers a key ally in a region destabilized by years of conflict in Libya.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper andnd Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita signed the 10-year agreement in Rabat, Morocco.
The two-day visit to Morocco is part of the three North African nations tour that began in Tunisia, where a similar military accord was signed. He also visited Algeria, the first U.S. defense secretary to meet with leaders there since 2006.
In Morocco, the United States renewed the alliance between the two nations. Morocco is a major non-NATO ally of the United States.
“Now more than ever, our two nations are working closely to tackle the challenges of an increasingly complex security environment ranging from counterterrorism and other transnational threats to regional instability and broader strategic challenges,” Esper said. “We do this together to promote the security, the stability and the prosperity of our shared goals and our peoples.”
Proud to co-sign a 10-year Roadmap for Defense Cooperation with Morocco’s Minister Delegate for the Administration of National Defense, Abdellatif Loudiyi, continuing our nations’ 242 year-old partnership. pic.twitter.com/0ipBkIhqBn
— Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) October 3, 2020
Strengthen strategic partnership
The military agreement “serves as a road map for defense cooperation and aims to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries and support shared security goals,” according to a statement issued by the Moroccan Foreign Ministry.
The road map charts cooperation between the two nations through 2030 and will allow the United States and Morocco to improve defense cooperation, partnerships and interoperability.
The agreement centers on “consolidating common security objectives, especially improving the degree of military readiness,” a statement from the General Command of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces said.
Esper also met Abdeltif Loudiyi, charged with national defense, and the Inspector General of the Morocco Royal Armed Forces, Gen. Abdelfettah Louarak.
The military deal would further bolster defense cooperation between the two countries. Washington is Morocco’s largest supplier of arms.
Morocco’s strategic location makes it a gateway to Africa. “Morocco is a country we have been friends with for many, many years, and I am confident that we will remain friends and strategic partners for generations to come,” Esper said.
Bolstering the U.S. partnerships in North Africa
The visits and security cooperation are aimed at bolstering strategic partnerships of the United States in North Africa and to counter the growing influence of Russia’s and China’s in the region.
“Today, our strategic competitors China and Russia continue to intimidate and coerce their neighbors while expanding their authoritarian influence worldwide, including on this continent,” Esper said during a ceremony in Carthage.
The United States’ enduring partnership with like-minded countries — including here in North Africa — is key to addressing these challenges” as “violent extremists continue to pose a threat not only to regional stability” but also to the U.S., he said.
The tour is aimed at building new alliances and strengthening old ones.