RABAT, April 4 U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry on Friday encouraged Morocco to push on with political and
economic reforms as the United States looks to expand commercial
ties with the only African country to enjoy a U.S. free trade
While leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were toppled by
Arab Spring revolts in 2011, Morocco weathered popular unrest
by raising social spending, introducing limited constitutional
reforms and bringing forward elections.
The North African kingdom has faced criticism over human
rights, particularly press freedom, after bringing terrorism
charges against a local journalist whose website posted a video
by al Qaeda's regional affiliate.
Kerry arrived in Rabat late on Thursday for annual talks on
strengthening economic, political and security ties, and praised
the reform process already undertaken by the government in
Morocco, where the king still holds wide powers.
"We want to make sure we are thoughtful and sensitive to
that process, but obviously we want to make sure that we're
working cooperatively and creatively" to help countries manage
their transitions, he said.
Kerry spoke at length about individual freedoms, saying: "No
politician can shut out the world, nobody has the ability to be
able to tune it all out."
During his visit, Morocco's Foreign Minister Salaheddine
Mezouar was asked by journalists about the case of Ali Anouzla,
editor of the Lakome news website, who is being prosecuted under
He was arrested last September after his website posted a
link of a video from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and is
accused by Moroccan authorities of assisting a terrorist group.
Rights groups say the case violates press freedom, an
allegation rejected by the minister. He said the government
respected Anouzla as a "great journalist", but "the case is in
the hands of justice."
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; editing by Patrick Markey and