India keen to make Morocco economic hub for Africa

Vice President Hamid Ansari at the bilateral meeting with Abdelilah Benkirane, Prime Minister of Morocco at PM's office in the capital city of Rabat in Morocco on Tuesday.

Vice President Hamid Ansari at the bilateral meeting with Abdelilah Benkirane, Prime Minister of Morocco at PM’s office in the capital city of Rabat in Morocco on Tuesday.

Vice President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said India wanted to make Morocco the hub for its economic activities in the African region. Vice President, who is on a three day visit to the country, said this after holding delegation level talks with Moroccan Prime Minister in Capital Rabat.

Two MoUs on cultural cooperation and institutional training were signed after Ansari met Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and delegation-level talks were held between the two sides.

“We reviewed all aspects of our expanding cooperation. Morocco is crucial to us for food security as it is the main supplier of phosphate which is crucial for agriculture,” Ansari said as the two leaders jointly spoke to the media.

Five Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) had been finalised between India and Morocco for improving bilateral relations but only two could be signed.

The MoUs on Cultural Exchange and Institutional Training for Foreign Service officers were signed, Secretary Economic Relations Amar Sinha said at a media briefing.

Sinha said the MoUs relating to other three areas of cooperation — Water Resources, Television Broadcasting and Education — have been finalised but “could not be signed due to technical issues”.

Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Kingdom of Morocco, Abdelilah Benkirane during their joint press conference after a meeting at PM's office, in the capital city of Rabat in Morocco on Tuesday.

Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Kingdom of Morocco, Abdelilah Benkirane during their joint press conference after a meeting at PM’s office, in the capital city of Rabat in Morocco on Tuesday.

Sinha said the Vice President conveyed to the leadership that the Indian government would like to look at Morocco and expand its economic activities since the two countries have a trade of USD 350 million.

“We would like to use Morocco as a hub for our economic activities in the African region,” Sinha quoted the Vice President as saying during the talks.

The Moroccan Prime Minister said India is an important partner for them, India’s Ambassador to Morocco Dinesh Patnaik said.

“The two agreed to make the relations more dimensional for increased cooperation,” Patnaik said.

Both the sides stressed on the need for injecting fresh momentum in bilateral relations. Morocco said that they need to look into the issues of political stability, economic development and human resources development, Sinha said.

Ansari said India appreciates Morocco’s support for India’s candidature for the UN Security Council.

The two sides identified new areas of mutual cooperation which included information technology, the Vice President said, adding that the MoUs signed will be beneficial for both countries.

He said that India was very happy to receive the King of Morocco Mohammed VI, who came to India last year for the Indo-Africa Summit.

The Vice President said on behalf of the Indian government he invited Prime Minister Benkirane to visit India.

Benkirane said Morocco sees India as a friend. “We will work together for a common future for the Mediterranean region.”

He said the two countries will also work in engaging jointly in efforts towards counter-terrorism.