In an interview with MAP and Al Oula, on the sidelines of her participation in the sixth ministerial meeting Forum for the Future, held in Marrakech on November 2-3, Clinton expressed appreciation for the changes initiated under the leadership of HM the King.
Here follows the full text of the interview:
Question : During the last ten years, His Majesty the King initiated reforms across-the-board in social and economic sectors, but also in Human rights and more specifically in women’s rights. What is your take on these changes that have been going on?
Hillary Clinton: First, let me say that I am delighted to speak with you. I always enjoy my visits to Morocco . I was here ten years ago and I have very fond memories of that trip and a prior trip. So for me it’s a special privilege. And I wanted to express my appreciation as I did to His Majesty Mohammed VI for the changes that he is instituting and under his leadership the government of Morocco is following through on. I think that the changes are important. I particularly applaud the new freedom for women. It has enhanced the cooperation and the participation that women have been able to show. I know that in recent local elections, women, three thousand women were elected. I think this will make Morocco a stronger country. I think that will make Morocco a stronger country. The more you involve the citizen, the more you empower citizen to make responsible decisions, the stronger Morocco will be.
Question; Madame Secretary, as you know, Morocco and the United States are two countries tied by a free trade agreement, which is by the way the only with an African country, how can the two countries combine their efforts to enhance economic ties?
Hillary Clinton: Well of course, we are very proud that our relationships with Morocco go back to more than 220 years. It’s the longest relationship in the world, unbroken by any kind of difficulty. And the recent free trade agreement would, which I had the privilege to vote for when I was a senator from New York is a modern example of this very deep and broad relationship. I think the significance of it is, as you say, the first free trade agreement with any country in Africa on a bilateral basis, a recognition that Morocco ’s economy is growing and the United States wants to invest. It is also a platform for further work that we must do together.
Question: Yesterday, Madame Secretary you reaffirmed that there is no change in the Obama Administration position as per the Moroccan autonomy plan in the Sahara . Would you like to elaborate some more ?
Hillary Clinton: This is a plan as you know that originated during the Clinton Administration. It was reaffirmed in the Bush Administration and it remains the policy of the United States in the Obama Administration. Now we are supporting the United Nations process because we think that if there can be a peaceful resolution to the difficulties that exist with your neighbours both to the east, to the south, to the west that is in everyone’s interest. Because of our long relationship, we are very aware of how challenging the circumstances are. And I don’t want anyone in the region or elsewhere to have any doubt about our policy which remains the same.
Question: President Obama has more than once called for a renewed, a new beginning with the Islamic world. How can Morocco, with longstanding tradition of tolerance and coexistence, help in this regard and how do you envision the two countries future in light of the Cairo speech?
Hillary Clinton: It’s an excellent question because I think that Morocco is especially well positioned to take a leadership role and fulfilling the call for greater cooperation and understanding set forth in his Cairo speech. We are looking to Morocco as model in many areas. We think that in this area of greater understanding between the United States and the Muslim world, Morocco can help lead the way.
Question: How can both countries again combine efforts to help advance the peace process towards a two-state solution?
Hillary Clinton: I think by continuing the very helpful support for the process, recognizing how difficult it is for the parties to do this solely on their own, that they need other countries and leaders like Majesty. To be very much pushing and prodding the process along and I think refraining from inflammatory comments that sometimes come from others in the region which unfortunately get everyone agitated and stall the process. This is very difficult work. It’s intensely time consuming effort. The President has evidence to a great sincerity and commitment. But, we know that you have to build on that by the painstaking outreach to both. We would welcome and seek the active support of all the others.
Question: We are going to move a little bit away from the Near East. I would like to ask a question about the Maghreb region and its neighbourhood. This region is facing several challenges, not least of which the economic ones which are made now more problematic because Moroccan and Algerian borders are closed for the time being, and also because of Al-Qaida in the Maghreb which is causing a lot of problems. What is your take on this situation and how can we move towards a more positive path?
Hillary Clinton: We are grateful for our close cooperation with Morocco and other countries in the region to counter terrorism and law enforcement and for our mutual cooperation against AlQaida, other terrorist groups, against drug traffickers and human traffikers. So we are committed to working with you and other nations to help defend yourself and create a more positive atmosphere. But we also hope that there can be a greater regional understanding and cooperation across borders, opening up borders, economic cooperation which would be beneficial. If you look across North Africa, through the Maghreb, there is such an opportunity to build a region of economic success. That requires political discussion and consultation. We would encourage our friends certainly Morocco and others to see how possible that might be and not be discouraged by the difficulty of starting such consultations.
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