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Macron in Morocco to discuss Libya, Qatar crisis

© POOL/AFP | Moroccan King Mohammed VI (R) walks alongside French President Emmanuel Macron as they review the honour guard upon the latter's arrival in Rabat on June 14, 2017

RABAT (AFP) - 

French President Emmanuel Macron was in Morocco Wednesday on a 24-hour visit for talks on battling terrorism as well as the Libyan conflict and Qatar's dispute with its Gulf neighbours.

As he stepped off the plane for his first visit to Morocco since his election in May, the French president, his wife Brigitte at his side, was welcomed on the tarmac by King Mohammed VI.

The king's wife, Princess Lala Salma, and Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, 14, were also present at the airport to greet the French first couple, who were then driven to the royal palace for talks.

Ahead of the visit, the French presidency said Macron would discuss with Mohammed VI the dispute between Qatar and several countries, as both Paris and Rabat are keen on mediating a solution to the crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and other countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the gas-rich Gulf nation of supporting Islamist extremism.

The crisis is the worst to grip the Gulf in years.

"President Macron has spoken with all the heads of state of the region and called for appeasement. This efforts could converge with the mediation that Morocco wants to attempt," said the Elysee Palace.

A French diplomatic source said "the priority is to help resolve the crisis".

Also on Macron's agenda was the conflict in Libya, where the UN-backed government is struggling to impose its legitimacy.

The fight against radicalisation and terrorism would also be at the centre of the talks between the two leaders, and Paris would like to "intensify" cooperation in that field, the source said.

Moroccans, or people of Moroccan origin, are believed to be behind several attacks that have been carried out in Europe in the past two years.

Macron and his wife are to attend an iftar meal, to break the fast of Ramadan, at the king's personal resident, and the French president will spend the night in Rabat before flying back home Thursday.

© 2017 AFP