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Moroccan king: ‘Arab unity’ needed more than ever

King Mohammad VI also said the Gulf states are in solidarity with Morocco over its Western Sahara claim

Published: Updated:

Moroccan King Mohammad VI said “Arab unity” is needed “more than ever” in the first open session for the GCC-Morocco Summit which started on Wednesday.

King Mohammad VI arrived Tuesday night in the Saudi capital Riyadh to participate in a GCC-Morocco Summit, along with Gulf leaders.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain are the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The king said while defending Morocco’s security is “our duty,” he described Gulf security as also “our responsibility.”

He also said that the Gulf states are in solidarity with Morocco over the latter’s Western Sahara claim.

Last month, Morocco ordered the UN to pull out dozens of civilian staffers and close a military liaison office for the MINURSO peacekeeping mission after criticizing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for using the word “occupation” to describe Morocco’s annexation of the disputed territory.

Morocco took over most of the territory in 1975 from colonial Spain. That started a guerrilla war with the Sahrawi people’s Polisario Front who say the desert territory on Africa’s northwest belongs to them.

The king also warned of “plans” using Islam as a pretext to “divide our states.” He urged for the need to show the “real Islam” and urged reconciliation between Islam’s different sects.

“Terrorism does not only threaten Muslims, but the world,” he added.

After him, Kuwait’s emir also gave his opening remarks. He said the session was taking place amid tense political, economic and security situations.

Later, Saudi King Salman announced the start of the first closed session for the summit.

Meanwhile, Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, who is currently in Riyadh, told Al Arabiya News Channel that “summit is an opportunity to give our relations [with GCC] a new dynamic.”

The summit comes after Saudi Arabia and Morocco signed an aid agreement worth $230 million in early April. The deal was part of a five-year package of financial assistance extended by wealthy Gulf states.

Rabat is anxious to avoid a drop in living standards and prevent a return of the street protests for political and economic reforms that King Mohammed managed to stifle in 2011 with constitutional reforms, social spending and harsh policing.