U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Morocco on Tuesday to discuss recent shifts in the diplomatic dynamic in the Middle East and North Africa that could upend some of the region’s long-standing disputes.
A day after an unprecedented gathering in Israel’s Negev Desert with the Israeli foreign minister and their counterparts from four Arab nations that have normalized relations with Israel, Blinken held talks with senior Moroccan officials to look at opportunities for expanding those ties.
In Morocco and again in Algeria on Wednesday, Blinken was also exploring options for helping end the neighbors’ festering row over Western Sahara after new developments offered fresh hope but added new complications for a resolution.
In Rabat, he will also see the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to try to ease U.S.-UAE tensions over a possible resurrection of the languishing 2015 Iran nuclear deal and a recent spat over a visit to the Emirates by Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
The meeting between Blinken and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita was their second direct encounter in two days.
The pair were together on Monday in the Israeli town of Sde Boker, where they each confirmed their countries’ commitment to supporting a revitalized Middle East with growing ties between Israel and Arab states.
Morocco, along with the UAE and Bahrain, was one of the countries to fully normalize relations with Israel during the Trump administration’s push to negotiate the so-called “Abraham Accords,” in which the U.S. pledged significant support in exchange for such recognition.
While technically not an Abraham Accords signatory, Morocco won U.S. recognition for its claim to Western Sahara in return for its agreement with Israel.