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Amid Unresolved Tensions, France Says ‘There Is No Crisis’ With Morocco

The spokesman for France’s Foreign Ministry, Anne-Claire Legendre, assured on Thursday that the country is “not in crisis” with Morocco, following criticism in Morocco of the European country’s approach towards Rabat.

“On the contrary, we have an exceptional partnership that we intend to nurture,” Legendre said, calling back to the visit of French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna to Rabat in December.

She also confirmed French President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to visit the country in the first quarter of this year.

The relationship between Rabat and Paris has been fraught with tensions over the past few years.

The diplomatic rift deepened in late 2021 when France announced visa restrictions on citizens of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, claiming that the three countries’ governments had declined to cooperate on the repatriation of immigrants who were to be deported from France.

Morocco described the decision as unjustified, specifying that it had always repatriated deported immigrants, but the visa restrictions had already caused tensions between the two countries.

While the restrictions were thought to be lifted following Colonna’s visit in December, a recent incident where Moroccan singer Manal Benchlikha was denied a visa brought the issue back into the spotlight.

Although her situation was eventually resolved, many were left wondering if the visa troubles with Paris were truly coming to an end soon.

Additionally, an ambiguous stance on the Western Sahara dispute has caused growing calls from within Morocco for France to voice clear support for Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

In his first interview with a foreign outlet earlier this month, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch said France can no longer “be an observer” in the Sahara dispute.

Meanwhile, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI had previously called on partners to “clarify their positions and reconsider them in a manner that leaves no room for doubt.”

Some also see the tensions with France as a result of Morocco improving ties with other partners, particularly the US.