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Pompeo arrives for his first visit to Morocco

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Rabat (Maroc) (AFP)

Top US diplomat Mike Pompeo visited Morocco on Thursday as the highest-ranking American official to travel there since the election of President Donald Trump.

The State Department has called Morocco an "essential partner" in the US diplomatic strategy in the region, which aims for the normalisation of ties between Arab countries and Israel.

"We have a great relationship between our two countries," Pompeo said as he began his meetings in Rabat. "We make our people safer in each of our two countries."

The trip comes after Pompeo announced last month that the United States no longer considered Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.

The announcement broke with decades of international consensus that the settlements are illegal and a major barrier to peace with the Palestinians.

The king of Morocco last month called for an end to "the policy of colonisation in the occupied Palestinian territories" and reiterated his support for a two-state solution.

On Wednesday, Pompeo met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Portugal in talks dominated by policy on their arch-enemy Iran.

Pompeo said they "discussed efforts to counter Iran's destabilising influence in the region, the importance of economic cooperation with regional partners and other issues related to Israel's security".

The US Secretary of State's programme was to include an audience with King Mohammed VI and a meeting with Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

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