Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) and his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, sign cooperation agreements in Rabat, Morocco, on Wednesday. Photo by Jalal Morchidi/EPA-EFE
Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Israel and Morocco announced Thursday that they'll strengthen their diplomatic relationship by opening full embassies in the coming weeks.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita announced the plan to upgrade their diplomatic liaison offices to full embassies in two months, The Jerusalem Post reported.
"Strategically, what we are creating here and what we are creating in recent months is a diplomatic access," Lapid said in remarks in Rabat, Morocco.
"Think of it as a kind of circle of Israel and Morocco and Egypt and Jordan and in some ways you can say Cyprus and Greece, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates. All of the countries that are religiously moderate with truly infinite economic potential. This creates a pragmatic alternative to religious extremism and builds a constant diplomatic dialogue."
The two countries agreed to normalize relations in December under a Trump administration deal, making Morocco the fourth Arab country to come to terms with Israel last year after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. But Morocco held back on opening a full embassy in Israel out of concern that the new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden might backtrack on former President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara, Axios reported.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured Bourita in April that the United States would continue the policy on the disputed territory.
Lapid on Thursday dedicated an Israeli liaison office in Rabat and extended an invitation from Israeli President Isaac Herzog for Moroccan King Muhammad VI to visit Israel.
Bourita said Lapid's visit to Morocco showed the commitment between the two countries to strengthen ties.
"Sing the signing last December of the Tripartite Agreement between Morocco-U.S.-Israel, a positive dynamic between the two countries led to the creation of five working teams covering promising sectors, such as [research and development], tourism and agriculture," Bourita said.