'Not on the agenda': Morocco denies French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Rabat
Rabat denied claims that French president Emmanuel Macron will visit Morocco amid Paris' one-sided attempts to fix strained ties with the North African kingdom.
"Macron has neither an agenda nor a planned visit," commented briefly a government official to Morocco state news agency MAP on Saturday, 16 September.
"I am surprised that the French foreign minister has taken such a unilateral initiative and allowed herself the freedom to make such an announcement," the official added.
In an interview with French channel LCI, French Foreign Minister Catherina Colonna claimed Friday that President Macron will visit Morocco soon at the invitation of Moroccan King Mohammed VI.
It was in a Moroccan salon with a Rabati red carpet where the interview with LCI and the minister took place. Colonna acknowledged tensions between Paris and Rabat, admitting that "making judgments on choices made by Morocco sovereignly was useless and hurtful for both countries."
The French diplomat's attempts to ease the two-year-long tensions with the kingdom did not impress Rabat, nor did Macron's "heartfelt" speech to Moroccans.
After Morocco rejected Paris's aid in the earthquake rescue operations, Macron made a two-minute video in French addressing the Moroccan people.
The French president said the quake shook France and Morocco, stressing that the French government was on the side of the Moroccan people and Paris had every opportunity to provide humanitarian assistance.
France pledged €5 million to aid organisations, and President Macron proclaimed his government ready to assist.
Macron's move stirred wide criticism, with many accusing the French leader of "longing for the colonial period" in Morocco and "disrespecting" the independent country's sovereignty.
Following the earthquake, the Moroccan government has maintained a reserved stance before accepting aid only from Spain, UAE, Qatar and the UK.
While many Moroccans criticised their government's slow and hesitant response to the devastating natural disaster, many commentators depicted Paris' insistence on aid as an "opportunist white saviour behaviour."
Morocco's selective acceptance of aid indicates a political rift and personal animosity between President Emmanuel Macron and King Mohammed VI.
Macron's ties with Rabat started on a good note in 2017.
Newly elected Macron broke the long-standing presidential tradition of starting the mandate with an official visit to Algeria. He went instead to Rabat and stayed in the king's palace in what the media described as a "friendly visit".
Since then, Macron has visited Morocco several times to inaugurate France-sponsored projects in the North African kingdom.
The first signs of tension started showing right after the Pegasus scandal.
Since then, communication between the two leaders, Macron and Mohammed VI, has reportedly stopped.
"Macron complained after the Pegasus affair, but the king gave him his word of honour that it is not his style. Macron responded very clumsy way; I cannot tell what he said. (...) He disrespected the King of Morocco, and their relationship was broken," French author Tahar Ben Jelloun said in June, citing trusted sources.