Morocco 'major non-Nato ally'

2004-06-04 10:37

Washington - US President George W Bush on Thursday designated Morocco a 'major non-Nato ally,' a move that will boost security co-operation between the two allies, the White House said.

'The president took this step in recognition of the close US-Morocco relationship, our appreciation for Morocco's steadfast support in the global war on terror, and for King Mohammed's role as a visionary leader in the Arab world,' said national security council spokesperson Fred Jones.

The decision means Morocco is joining an exclusive club of countries that enjoy a privileged security relationship with the United States.

Its members, which include Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand, are granted significant benefits in the area of foreign aid and defence co-operation.

Major non-Nato allies are eligible for priority delivery of defence material and the purchase, for instance, of depleted uranium anti-tank rounds.

They can stockpile US military hardware, participate in defence research and development programmes, and benefit from a US government loan guarantee programme, which backs up loans issued by private banks to finance arms exports.

However, the designation does not afford them the same mutual defence guarantees enjoyed by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. - AFX