Vienna, 10 November 2006 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met with her Moroccan counterpart Mohamed Benaïssa for talks today. The meeting focused on bilateral relations and UN efforts for a solution of the Western Sahara issue. The Foreign Ministers also discussed regional topics, Austria’s candidacy for the UN Security Council seat in 2009-2010, and the dialogue between religions and cultures in which Morocco is playing an important role as a mediator.
"The relations between Morocco and Austria are cordial and close. This is demonstrated by the frequency of bilateral meetings: Foreign Minister Benaïssa also had talks in Vienna last April. Cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna in the training of Moroccan diplomats constitutes another pleasant development," said Plassnik, while at the same time pointing out that there was still scope for intensifying relations in some areas. "In the economic field in particular there is still potential that has not been leveraged. We hope that the double taxation agreement that will enter into force next week will provide momentum in this area," said Plassnik.
Plassnik emphasised Austria’s interest in an early solution to the Western Sahara issue. "With regard to regional cooperation within the Maghreb region the unresolved Western Sahara issue is still the major obstacle. Flexibility and realism on the part of the parties to the conflict are a precondition for a just, long-term solution that is acceptable to all sides and allows self-determination of the Saharan people. In this connection Austria and the EU support the long-standing efforts of the United Nations," said Plassnik.
Foreign Minister Plassnik highlighted the encouraging developments in Morocco in connection with human rights issues and particularly stressed the first meeting of the sub-committee on human rights between the EU and Morocco to be held on 16 November in Rabat: "This is another confirmation by Morocco that it wants to be a pioneer in this field in the region," continued the Foreign Minister, citing Morocco’s participation in the EU peace mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina as an example of the especially close relations between the EU and Morocco.
"For Austria, Morocco is also a major partner in the efforts for a long-term dialogue between cultures and religions. The cultural activities of the Austrian Embassy and the Austrian Information Centre in Rabat also make an important contribution," concluded Plassnik.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
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