Visit to Morocco by Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba
Courtesy Call on His Majesty King
Courtesy Call on H.E. Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane,
Meeting with H.E. Dr. Saad Dine El Otmani,
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
On Thursday, May 4, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs, paid courtesy calls on His Majesty King Mohammed VI and H.E. Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane, Prime Minister, and held talks with H.E. Dr. Saad Dine El Otmani, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The overview of the meetings is as follows.
I. Courtesy Call on His Majesty King Mohammed VI
(1) Bilateral relations
Minister Gemba stated that he was delighted that excellent relations existed between the Imperial Household of Japan and the Royal Household of Morocco, and expressed his gratitude for the various types of heartwarming support that Japan received from Morocco following the Great East Japan Earthquake. In regard to relations with the Imperial Household, His Majesty King Mohammed VI commented that he had visited Japan numerous times and met with his His Majesty the Emperor. He also noted that His Majesty the Emperor had personally paid a visit to Morocco when he was still the Crown Prince. His Majesty King Mohammed VI said that he was moved by the courage and determination of the Japanese people following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Minister Gemba brought up the point that Japanese companies had a high level of interest in solar energy and that Japan possessed outstanding technology in this field. His Majesty King Mohammed VI responded that Morocco intended to utilize not only sunlight but also wind power and that the country would like to attract investment from overseas. He added that he hoped Minister Gemba’s visit would jumpstart the attraction of investment, and mentioned that relations between Japan and Morocco were also good in the field of fisheries.
Minister Gemba commented that his visit schedule would be centered on the TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting, so he would be unable to meet with the head of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), but that he planed to send a business mission to Morocco in June and hoped to have a meeting then. His Majesty King Mohammed VI responded that he would be happy to hold such a meeting, and will respond to Foreign Minister Gemba’s request at any time.
(2) The West Sahara issue
His Majesty King Mohammed VI thanked Japan for maintaining a neutral stance regarding the West Sahara issue up to now. He stated that Morocco currently had a nonpermanent seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council, and that he understood that Japan had also been a nonpermanent member until two years ago. Minister Gemba stated that he hoped that the parties involved would resolve the West Sahara issue within the framework of the UN.
(3) Regional situations
Minister Gemba commented that over the course of his many visits to the Middle East and North Africa, he had come to understand that the circumstances in each country were diverse. He stated that Morocco had the leadership of the King, and that he believed that the country was skillfully moving forward with process of democratization in a moderate manner.
His Majesty King Mohammed VI responded by saying that Morocco was led not only by himself, but also by its people. Minister Gemba said that Morocco tended not to be considered part of the “Arab Spring,” and the nature of support and types of involvement needed to be diverse. His Majesty King Mohammed VI agreed and stated that the conditions were different in each country and that Tunisia, Syria, Libya, and Egypt were all different. He added that Morocco was particularly concerned about the conditions in Syria. He said that perhaps the situation regarding ceasefire monitors was not going well and that the situation of the UN Security Council was somewhat difficult.
II. Courtesy Call on H.E. Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane, Prime Minister
(1) Bilateral relations
Minister Gemba stated his impression that the process of democratization was moving forward smoothly in Morocco and that he expected economic and social reforms to continue to advance under Prime Minister Benkirane in the future. He commented that Japan intended to provide support in accordance with the circumstances in Morocco. He also mentioned that he was pleased that the signing ceremony for ODA loans related to plans for the development of sewage systems could take place and that he hoped that Prime Minister Benkirane would keep in mind that Japanese companies were very interested in the solar power generation business in Morocco. Prime Minister Benkirane stated that Japan’s support for projects related to the region, the environment, and so forth had been highly praised and that he hoped that this support would continue. He also mentioned that he would continue to make efforts so that Japanese companies could be active in the Morocco and said that he hoped as well that Morocco would receive support from Japan in the field of solar energy. Prime Minister Benkirane commented that Japan was accepting many students and executives from Morocco for training and mentioned that there had been a request to expand this training. Minister Gemba responded that Japan intended to seriously consider the matter.
(2) Middle East peace
Prime Minister Benkirane commented that regarding the Middle East peace issue, Morocco could not accept Israel occupying land without negotiations, and that he trusted that Japan would continue to play an important role in the world in the future. He stated that he hoped that Japan would contribute to efforts to achieve justice for the Palestinians – in other words, the establishment of an independent state. Minister Gemba stated that during his recent visit to the Middle East, he had made requests to Israel regarding an agreement on a freeze of settlement activities, continuous tax transfers, and a positive response to the letter sent from Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority. He reported that he had said to President Abbas that he was concerned that if Palestine made a bid to enter the UN, the parties supporting Palestine would become divided. Minister Gemba added that in any case, Middle East peace was the core issue for the region and that Japan intended to do all it could in this regard.
III. Meeting with H.E. Dr. Saad Dine El Otmani, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
(1) Bilateral relations
Minister Gemba commented that he would like Morocco to participate in an international meeting concerning large-scale natural disasters planned for July, carry out solar energy generation projects, and provide cooperation in the field of tripartite cooperation for Africa. He also said that in regard to support for Morocco, important elements included the correction of disparities, job creation, and the nurturing of industries. Furthermore, he mentioned that Japan planned to dispatch a business mission to the country in June.
Minister El Otmani requested that Japan consider the holding of a Japan-Morocco Joint Committee Meeting around November 2012, the conclusion of a cultural exchange agreement, the establishment of a JETRO regional office, an increase in the amount of ODA being given to Morocco, and an expansion in the field of tripartite cooperation for Africa. Minister El Otmani also expressed his appreciation for the support that Japan had provided to Morocco to date, the activities of Japanese companies, and the actions of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOVC).
Minister Gemba responded by saying that Japan intended to examine the conclusion of a cultural exchange agreement and the establishment of a JETRO regional office. He added that Japan also intended to examine the details regarding expansion in the field of tripartite cooperation for Africa at the working level, and that there were no divergent views in this regard. The ministers agreed to begin preliminary negotiations regarding the conclusion of investment agreements in order to further promote bilateral economic activities.
(2) Cooperation in the international arena
Minister Gemba mentioned that considering Morocco’s nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council, Japan hoped that the country would move ahead with cooperation regarding North Korea and Security Council reform. Minister El Otmani commented that Morocco supported Japan’s stance regarding Security Council reform, and said that it was not desirable to continue the current framework of the Security Council as it was created immediately following World War II.
(3) The two ministers exchanged opinions regarding Middle East peace and so forth. Minister Gemba introduced the content of his talks with the heads of Israel and Palestine.
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