By Munir K. Nasser
The US Government announced that it would provide Morocco with a new food package in response to the worsening drought in the country.
The announcement said President Clinton informed King Mohammed VI that the United States would provide Morocco with additional food aid totaling 110,000 metric tons of wheat and barley, worth $10 million. This new food aid is in addition to the 100,000 metric tons of wheat announced last fall, bringing to 210,000 metric tons the total US food aid for Morocco this year.
The US Embassy in Rabat said in a press release that this food aid comes in recognition of the difficulty of the situation Morocco faces because of two consecutive years of worsening drought. The Embassy also praised the Moroccan government’s commitment to reform rural and agricultural development policies so that the Moroccan people and economy will be less vulnerable to drought in the future.
In addition to this food aid, President Clinton announced the creation of the King Hassan II Memorial Scholarship Program, which will provide scholarships every year to Moroccan scholars pursuing studies in international affairs and conflict resolution.
President Clinton also committed to an increase in the budget of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Morocco. These new funds will be used for programs aimed at conserving water resources and promoting economic reform.
In the state visit of King Mohammed VI to the United States two weeks ago, it was agreed to move forward quickly on the completion of several agreements to further promote cooperation between the United States and Morocco. These agreements included a bilateral air transport agreement that will establish a modern air transport relationship between the United States and Morocco. This agreement will facilitate air travel and promote business, tourism and cultural contacts between the two countries.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Morocco also plan to sign agreements to cooperate on scientific projects, including atmospheric research, oceanographic research, desertification, and precipitation. An anti-drought observatory will be set up in Morocco in cooperation with the University of Nebraska to assess the frequency, severity and location of droughts in Morocco. In the field of energy cooperation, the US Department of Energy and the Moroccan Ministry of Energy and Mines will sign a cooperation agreement on energy efficiency and renewable energy – Albawaba.com
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