Moroccan King Mohammed VI, who was recently in New Delhi for the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS), has said he wants to build a “special partnership across all fields” with India and is so much in love with the country that he has promised to come back on a private visit with the royal family by this year-end.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the king said he was very satisfied with the outcome of the Summit on October 29 which he saw as a “model for effect South-south solidarity”. He said he saw “eye to eye on all issues of common concern” between India and Africa and had a wish to “inject fresh momentum” into bilateral relations.
Officials said the 45-year-old king, who was making his fourth visit to India, took a lot of interest in the proceedings of the IAFS and had a high-profile presence in it, making a lot of useful interventions and suggestions.
Known for his progressive thinking, like gender parity and education and training for women, and who has made his North African country a model of moderate Islam in a region beset with political violence and religious extremism, Mohammed VI met Modi for nearly 40 minutes on October 30 where the two discussed the entire gamut of bilateral ties.
“The meeting was scheduled for just five minutes but it stretched for 38 minutes,” said one official who was present, so engrossed were the two leaders, meeting for the first time, in discussing ways of ramping up ties across a variety of fields.
A senior Indian minister from an economic ministry, possisbly agriculture, will visit Morocco soon.
Morocco is the largest supplier of rock phosphates, a key element in fertilizers, to India and contributes hugely to India’s food security.
Talks were held between the two sides to explore investment opportunities in each other’s country, expansion of economic and trade ties, and more people to people relations from tourism to culture.
Modi accepted an invitation by King Mohammed VI to visit Morocco at the earliest opportunity. The last Indian prime minister to visit Morocco was Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999.
The King, who was the first African leader to arrive in India about five days before the Summit, also stayed back the longest, rounding up his 12-day trip with a five-day stay in Mumbai, during which he drove around the city himself and, according to knowledgeable sources, “enjoyed every bit of it”.
He had come to India with one of the largest delegations among the 54 countries that attended the historic summit.