Morocco Downplays Decision to Suspend Contacts With Germany

Morocco on Tuesday sought to downplay a decision by its Foreign Ministry to suspend contacts with Germany’s government over unspecified “deep misunderstandings.”

In an official letter to other ministries leaked on social media late Monday, the Foreign Ministry said it had taken the decision because of issues of fundamental importance to the kingdom. A spokesperson, who confirmed the document’s authenticity, said the suspension covers the German embassy in Rabat, cooperation agencies and political foundations.

But less than 24 hours later, authorities appeared to qualify the announcement, saying it wasn’t a freeze on diplomatic relations nor a ban on German organizations contacting their Moroccan counterparts, according to remarks from an unidentified Moroccan diplomat quoted on le360, a news portal that widely reflects the official line of thinking in Rabat.

Even so, the Moroccan ambassador in Berlin was summoned by the German Foreign Ministry for an urgent meeting, a government official said, because Germany sees no reason for its normal diplomatic relations with the north African country to be impaired.

‘Frustrations’

The diplomat who spoke to le360 was quoted as saying the letter was the culmination of frustrations over a lack of progress on the “geopolitical” front that goes along with “exemplary cooperation in the economic, financial and social” arenas.

Morocco may have taken offense at German state-owned broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s airing last year of a video questioning the kingdom’s human rights record as well as the rise of Abdellatif Hammouchi, a prominent security official linked to crackdowns on activists and journalists.

Also, when Donald Trump during his last weeks as U.S. president announced U.S. recognition of Morocco’s assertion of sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara, Germany called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the issue.

Germany is Morocco’s seventh-biggest trade partner. The government in Berlin lent the kingdom around $1.5 billion last year amid the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and its development bank KfW was key in financing an expansion into renewable energies.

Berlin also took Morocco off a list of countries whose citizens may qualify for political asylum.

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