White House: Moroccan King Mohammad VI to visit U.S

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King Mohammed VI of Morocco will visit the United States later this month, the White House said on Thursday.

The talks on Nov. 22 will highlight Washington's support for Morocco's "democratic and economic" reforms, a White House statement said, AFP reported.

Obama was also keen to increase cooperation with Morocco on challenges including regional violent extremism, democratic transitions and economic development, the statement added.

Morocco has been a strong ally of the United States for years, but in April this year their relation was stumbled into a diplomatic crisis when the Obama administration supported a U.N. drafy proposal to monitor human rights in the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Morocco briefly canceled its annual “African Lion” military exercises - involving 1,400 U.S. servicemen and 900 Moroccan troops.

Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara in 1976, sparking a decades-long battle for independence by the Polisario Front group, which ended with a U.N.-brokered 1991 cease-fire.

Ownership of the mineral-rich region, however, is an incredibly sensitive matter for the Moroccans and their highest foreign priority. Morocco has proposed a wide autonomy for Western Sahara, but the Polisario insist on the “inalienable right” to self-determination through a referendum. Neither side has budged and sporadic talks have ended in a stalemate.

(With AFP and AP)