Good afternoon. Thank you for being here.
It’s wonderful to be back in Morocco for my first visit as Deputy Secretary of State, and on this day of International Women’s Day, as the Minister said, I am the first woman Deputy Secretary of State. And I trust that Morocco will do it faster than we did, since it took me getting white hair to be the first woman.
I also want to give a shoutout to all the women in Morocco, who are here today and listening, for all that you contribute to your families, to your society, to this great country, and to the men who support you to do so, which I am grateful for in my own case.
I also want to echo the Secretary of State who, earlier today, made a special tribute to the women of Ukraine, so many who have traveled hours after hours to take their children to safety, or who stayed to be able to join the fight. I cannot imagine, as a mother and a grandmother, doing what these women have done. And so, on this International Women’s Day, I want to join the Secretary in paying tribute to them.
I want to begin these formal remarks by thanking Foreign Minister Bourita for his hospitality, and a truly spectacular lunch, and for meeting with me today to convene a new round of the Morocco-U.S. Strategic Dialogue on Regional Political Issues.
The friendship between our countries is the longest unbroken diplomatic relationship in the United States’ history, beginning with the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1787.
Morocco and the United States have strong shared interests in promoting regional peace, security, and prosperity, and the Foreign Minister and I had the chance today to discuss a wide range of priorities in our bilateral relationship.
We discussed our ongoing cooperation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States is proud to support Morocco’s highly successful vaccination campaign. We have donated 1.5 million Pfizer vaccine doses to Morocco to date through COVAX and have also contributed refrigeration units that can store more than 2 million vaccine doses.
The United States applauds King Mohammed VI’s leadership in advancing an ambitious and far- reaching reform agenda. The Foreign Minister and I discussed our shared commitment to gender equality and promoting the rights of women and girls. I’m very glad to be here in Morocco on International Women’s Day, and am looking forward to traveling to Casablanca later today to speak at a conference of Moroccan women entrepreneurs.
Finally, we discussed our critical partnership in security and defense. Morocco participates in more than 100 military exercises and events with the United States each year. Planning is well underway for African Lion 2022, our largest annual training exercise in Africa, and we are grateful to Morocco for continuing to host this event.
We discussed Morocco’s leadership in maintaining regional peace and security. The United States welcomes the normalization of relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and Israel, and appreciates the steps the two countries are taking as they work toward upgrading their diplomatic liaison offices to full embassies.
On the Western Sahara, the United States and Morocco both strongly support the efforts of Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations’ Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, and we do so with an open mind to find a resolution that will lead to an enduring and dignified outcome for all parties. We continue to view Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious, credible, and realistic, and a potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people of the region.
The United States also welcomes Morocco’s positive role in supporting the UN’s efforts on the political process in Libya and in hosting the inter-Libyan dialogue.
Finally, of course, we discussed the biggest security challenge facing the global community today, and that is President Putin’s premeditated, unjustified, and unprovoked war in Ukraine.
The United States is united with Ukraine, which has done absolutely nothing to threaten Russia. We worked for months with our allies and partners to offer President Putin a diplomatic path to address Russia’s legitimate security concerns in a reciprocal manner.
But President Putin rejected diplomacy and chose instead to launch a massive assault on a sovereign nation. And not only are Ukrainians bearing the consequences of that decision, but the Russian people, with whom we have no fight, are as well.
The United States is coordinating on an ongoing basis with our allies and partners around the world to impose severe costs and consequences on President Putin and his enablers for the unprovoked war on Ukraine.
We call on President Putin to agree to a ceasefire, immediately withdraw his troops from Ukraine, and move the forces he’s built up away from Ukraine’s borders—and, as Morocco has, we call for dialogue to get to peace.