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In a press statement, Senior State Department officials previewing Secretary Pompeo's upcoming visit to Morocco insisted that Morocco is a long standing ally to the US.

Responding to the press, the Senior State Department Official emphasizes that "Before I take your questions, I want to open by stressing how much we value our longstanding relationship with Morocco. Morocco was the first country to recognize U.S. independence and was home to our first diplomatic mission overseas in Tangiers, of course, for those of you who are following online.

Morocco is also a critical partner for us across a range of issues, a leader on the African continent, an important voice for peace in the broader Middle East, and a source of stability in the Mediterranean. We appreciate their continued partnership, especially in our multilateral effort to defeat ISIS. We appreciate Morocco’s continued efforts to promote sustainable economic development by prioritizing the inclusion of women in the workforce. Most recently, Special Advisor Ivanka Trump visited to speak with women about new land reforms and to advance female financial independence.

The U.S. has partnered with Morocco on a number of projects that seek to promote high-quality education through the Peace Corps, USAID, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The Secretary’s visit will underscore these close, longstanding ties. He’s looking forward to meeting with Moroccan Senior Leaders. The Secretary will also meet with our staff of the embassy in Rabat to thank them for their hard work, as he does on almost every trip he takes overseas."

QUESTION: Sure. Just very quickly, will the issue of Western Sahara come up? There had been some talk that this was closer to resolution and just curious if that’s the case, if there is any sign of prospect in this very long-simmering, intractable problem, and whether the Secretary will discuss that with Moroccan leaders.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah, thanks, Nick. Listen, so obviously, the Western Sahara is a priority issue for the Moroccans, and we are being engaged with the – with the UN looking forward to moving forward a political solution. Our policy remains the same, that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible, but without that – but that the Moroccans will raise this. This is an issue that they have conveyed to us as something that is essential for them.

QUESTION: But no sense that we’re closer to a resolution?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think it’s a work in – yet another work in progress. We’re going to have a new envoy appointed from the UN, a personal envoy that appears to be getting closer to being appointed. But in terms of negotiation, there is still a lot of ground to cover.