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U.S., Morocco renew military ties to 2030

U.S., Morocco renew military ties to 2030
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, second from L, received a welcome of Friday in Rabat, Morocco, where the United States and Morocco agreed to a 10-year military cooperation plan. Photo courtesy of U.S. Defense Department 

Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Morocco and the United States, in an alliance dating to 1777, renewed a defense cooperation road map through 2030, the Defense Department announced.

U.S. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper and Morocco's Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita signed the cooperation plan in Rabat, Morocco, on Friday as Esper toured Middle Eastern countries.

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"Morocco is a country we have been friends with for many, many years, and I am confident that we will remain friends and strategic partners for generations to come," Esper said.

In listing cooperative defense initiatives, he noted a specific military training drill, Exercise African Lion. The annual exercise includes participants from across the African continent.

"It is a key training and exercise event for many, many years, not just between the United States and Morocco," Esper said.

Morocco, in North Africa, is regarded as a major ally of the United States, although not a NATO member.

While meeting with Bourita, Esper noted his full support for Moroccan force modernization initiatives and said the U.S. and Morocco will better face regional threats together, a Defense Department statement on Friday said.

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