Morocco's Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi was due Wednesday, May 2, in Paris where he was expected to ask France, his country's biggest donor, for more aid and argue for closer ties with the European Union.
Youssoufi will meet French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin during the two-day visit, and will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa, and Social Economy Minister Ahmed Lahlimi.
At the last bilateral talks between Rabat and Paris in November 1999, France agreed to reconvert some 700 million francs ($94.6 million) in debt into investment. France also agreed to a 300-million-franc line of credit to Morocco for the purchase of cereals.
Youssoufi wants to boost trade between the two countries, which reached 41.1 billion dirhams (€4.01 billion, $3.55 billion) during the first nine months of 2000, against 39.5 billion dirhams over the same period the year before.
The talks in Paris will also broach the thorny issue of allowing EU boats to fish in Moroccan waters. Morocco has refused to agree to a new three-year fisheries deal, and the impasse could damage overall relations with both Spain and the European Union.
Youssoufi will also be accompanied by Labor Minister and ex-Moroccan ambassador to Paris, Abbes Al-Fassi, along with the ministers of Justice and education, Omar Azzimane and Abdallah Saaf. — (AFP, Rabat)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)