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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 19:53 GMT
US doubles Morocco military aid
US Secretary of State Colin Powell
The US wants North African nations to be firm against terrorism
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the US is to double military aid to Morocco, on a visit to the kingdom.

US economic aid will be boosted four-fold over the coming years - a reward for Morocco's support in the US-led war against terror.

Mr Powell was speaking in Marrakesh, during a brief tour of North Africa.

He later stressed the importance of press freedom, broad political participation and respect for human rights on a visit to Algeria.

The visits to Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria are aimed at increasing co-operation in the war against terrorism and promoting democratic reform.

Mr Powell said he held "candid" discussions with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on the past years of political violence in Algeria, which has claimed thousands of lives.

He said he called for full and open political participation "for all who wish to participate", including free, fair and transparent elections, and Mr Bouteflika gave him corresponding "assurances".

Islamic militants took up arms against the Algerian Government in 1992 after the authorities scrapped elections that an Islamist party was poised to win. Fresh presidential elections are expected next April.

Morocco praised

US Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) with Morocco's King Mohammed VI
Morocco has been rewarded for supporting the US
Earlier, Mr Powell congratulated Moroccan King Mohammed VI on what he called bold political reforms.

He thanked the Muslim leader for his support of US policy in Iraq and efforts to solve the conflict in the Middle East.

Mr Powell said Morocco and the US shared the same vision of Israeli and Palestinian states coexisting peacefully.

He announced that the roadmap - the US-brokered plan to bring peace to the Middle East - was definitely not dead.

He said what was needed now was a commitment by Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Ala to fight terrorism.

The BBC's Jon Leyne
"The Secretary of State has stirred controversy"

Powell due to visit North Africa
02 Dec 03  |  Africa
Tunisia accused of rights abuses
10 Jun 03  |  Africa

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