SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Esmeralda Swartz, Kevin Jackson

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Sec. Clinton Calls Morocco "Well-Positioned to Lead" on Democratic Reforms; Affirms U.S. Support for Moroccan Autonomy Plan as "Serious, Realistic, and Credible" Approach to Resolve Western Sahara Crisis

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a joint press briefing after meeting with Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised Morocco for advancing democratic reforms under His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and for advocating international efforts to protect civilians in Libya. She said Morocco is "well-positioned to lead" for democratic change during this "crucial moment in time for Morocco, the Maghreb, and the Middle East," and endorsed Morocco's autonomy plan as a "serious, realistic, and credible" approach to end the Western Sahara conflict.

"The King has long demonstrated his commitment to reform," said Sec. Clinton, applauding the King's speech earlier this month promising "comprehensive reforms that would guarantee free parliamentary elections, including the election of a prime minister, create an independent judiciary, and assure human rights for all of Morocco's stakeholders, including the Amazigh community." The March 9 speech was also praised by many in the international community.

Concerning the crisis in Libya, Sec. Clinton acknowledged "Morocco's leadership at the summit in Paris last week" and its "important role in the Arab League's decision to call for the protection of Libyan civilians."

On the Western Sahara, Clinton emphasized that U.S. policy "has remained constant... starting with the Clinton Administration and continuing through the Bush Administration and up to the present in the Obama Administration." She said Morocco's autonomy plan provides "a potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity."

Minister Fassi Fihri underscored Morocco's commitment to democracy and its reform initiatives, and to support democratic change in the region to keep the "Arab spring" from becoming "a dark winter." He reiterated that there "is no Arab exception for the universal principle of dignity and freedom." On the three-decades old Western Sahara conflict, he said "we hope that we can resolve this issue," which he called "a necessity" for Morocco, but also for the security of the Maghreb as a region. "Al-Qaida is here and trying to create problems not only for the Maghreb but for many, many citizens and countries."

In closing, Secretary Clinton noted the continuity of reform in Morocco. "I would add that we're so encouraged...because the King has been making reforms over the last several years. We're already seeing the result of those reforms, and these additional announcements ...will add to that. So we're seeing exactly what the King has said being enacted."

"The U.S. has a key role to play in supporting conditions that make regional reforms possible," said Edward M. Gabriel, former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco and chairman of the Moroccan American Center. "We look forward to following the steps that the U.S. will take to strengthen the strategic partnership with Morocco, which has much to offer because of our shared values and interests. It has the commitment and experience to make meaningful reform a reality."

For Minister Fassi Fihri and Secretary Clinton's full remarks, visit: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/03/158895.htm

The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. For more, please visit www.moroccanamericanpolicy.org

This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.

SOURCE Moroccan American Center for Policy

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