French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday addressed the Moroccan public in a video message, saying Paris was ready to provide help in the recovery from Friday’s devastating earthquake if King Mohammed VI accepts France’s offer.
“I wanted to address Moroccans directly to tell you that France was devastated ... by this terrible earthquake,” Macron said in a video posted on social media, adding: “We will be at your side.”
“We have the possibility to provide direct humanitarian aid,” Macron said, adding that it was up to Mohammed VI and the government - which have so far ignored France’s offers - to organise international support.
“We are at the disposal of their sovereign decision”, Macron said.
Many survivors of the quake struggled in makeshift shelters on Tuesday after a fourth night in the open as rescuers from Spain, Britain and Qatar helped Morocco’s search teams. Italy, Belgium, and Germany have said their offers of assistance have yet to be approved.
Paris and Rabat have had a difficult relationship in recent years - notably over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, which Morocco wants France to recognise as Moroccan. Morocco has not had an envoy in Paris since January.
Macron in the video message called recent controversies around diplomatic tensions between the North African country and its former colonial power misplaced, echoing remarks made by France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna earlier this week.
Around 51,000 French citizens live in Morocco, according to foreign ministry figures. According to the Observatory for Immigration and Demographics, France is home to a Moroccan diaspora of about 1.5 million people, including 670,000 dual nationals.