Trump gives award to Morocco's king in private ceremony
Workers cart boxes into the West Wing of the White House, as offices in the White House complex are being packed up and moved out, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has awarded a top U.S. honor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, citing his decision to begin normalization of relations with Israel. Morocco’s ambassador to the U.S., Princess Lalla Joumala, accepted it on his behalf in a private ceremony, according to a White House statement. Earlier this week, Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, one of his fiercest GOP allies, in a private ceremony at the White House. The White House also announced this week that Trump would be awarding New England coach Bill Belichick, a six-time Super Bowl winner, the Medal of Freedom.
US Consulate a turning point for disputed Western Sahara
The United States plans to put its footprint in this picturesque setting. The king's face is juxtaposed on a map that includes Western Sahara as an integral part of Morocco. While the consulate isn’t expected to open for another six to 12 months, Schenker's trip is a way for the U.S. to cement its commitment to Western Sahara before President Donald Trump leaves office. “The U.S. cannot both support the U.N.’s role in resolving Western Sahara conflict and endorse Moroccan sovereignty,” Omar tweeted. The U.S. recognition of Western Sahara as Morocco's drew criticism from the U.N. and America's allies.
Morocco acquires 65 million vaccine doses from China, UK
His ministry said Friday that Morocco has not yet received the vaccines. Morocco has one of the most advanced vaccination plans in the region. Morocco has said it will start its vaccination program with the Sinopharm vaccine, though it hasn't yet completed advanced trials to prove that it's safe and effective. Morocco's initial vaccine deliveries will come from China, but Morocco also plans to produce the vaccine locally. The AstraZeneca vaccine is still in advanced trials in countries including Britain and the U.S. and hasn’t been approved yet.
Kushner joins Israelis on landmark visit to Morocco
The U.S. decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara has drawn criticism from the U.N. as well as American allies in Africa and beyond. During the 1990s, Israel and Morocco established low-level diplomatic relations, but Morocco closed its representative office in Tel Aviv after the eruption of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. Even so, the two countries have maintained good behind-the-scenes contacts, and some 30,000 to 50,000 Israelis continue to visit Morocco each year. On the tarmac in Israel, Kushner said that he hopes the delegation's visit will “pave the way for another warm peace between Israel and Morocco,” pointing to the emerging ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The agreement with Morocco deals a major setback to those in Western Sahara who have fought for independence and want a referendum on the territory’s future.
Israel, Morocco to normalize ties; US shifts W Sahara policy
Trump has announced that Israel and Morocco will normalize relations in the latest achievement of his administration's press to push Arab-Israeli peace. “It is thus fitting we recognize their sovereignty over the Western Sahara,” Trump said. Kushner said the dispute over Western Sahara was an anachronism that needed to be addressed by a bold move. U.S. backing for Morocco's Western Sahara claim has long been a rumored, but unconfirmed, bargaining chip in talk about diplomatic ties. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the Israel-Morocco agreement but reserved judgment on the Western Sahara, according to a spokesman.
Morocco's king, 56, undergoes successful heart surgery
RABAT King Mohammed VI of Morocco has undergone successful surgery in Rabat for a heart rhythm disorder, state news agency MAP reported Monday. The king, 56, was treated for a disorder known as atrial flutter, a non-life-threatening condition in which the heart beats less efficiently. The king had similar surgery in 2018 in Paris to normalize his heart rhythm. Mohammed took power at age 35 from his long-serving father Hassan II, who died of a heart attack in 1999. Mohammed has presided over reforms meant to open up politics, though ultimate power still rests with the king.