Egypt FM to visit Morocco amid tension: Diplomat

RABAT (AA) – Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will arrive in Rabat on Jan. 18 for a visit aimed at resolving recent tension between Cairo and Rabat, a senior Moroccan diplomat said Tuesday.

Shoukry will meet his Moroccan counterpart, Salahuddin Mizwar, to discuss means of overcoming a diplomatic row with Egypt, the diplomat, preferring anonymity, told The Anadolu Agency.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has yet to confirm Shoukry's visit to Morocco.

Last week, Cairo was dismayed by references to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as a "coup leader" on Moroccan state television.

Al-Sisi, the former army general who was declared winner of last year's presidential polls in Egypt, played a key role in overthrowing Mohamed Morsi – a Muslim Brotherhood leader and Egypt's first freely elected president – following protests in mid-2013 against his single year in office.

Since then, the Egyptian authorities have tirelessly attempted to refute the perception that Morsi's ouster was a military coup, insisting that the army had merely "responded to the popular will" by removing Morsi.

On Thursday, two Moroccan state television channels described al-Sisi as a "coup leader" while referring to Morsi as Egypt's "legitimate president."

It was the first time for Moroccan state media to describe Morsi's ouster by the army as a "coup."

Morocco's King Mohammed VI had been quick to congratulate al-Sisi after he was declared president of Egypt last June.

Last summer, Egyptian TV anchor Amani al-Khayyat irked many Moroccans after criticizing Rabat's role in the perennial Palestine-Israel dispute.

Al-Khayyat had also asserted that "one of the pillars of the Moroccan economy is prostitution" and that Morocco was "among the top countries affected by HIV," suggesting that such practices were taking place under "Islamist rule."

Moroccan activists at the time urged the government – which is led by the Islamist Justice and Development Party – to demand an official apology from the Egyptian government.

Al-Khayyat later apologized for her remarks after Egypt's Foreign Ministry distanced the government from her statements.

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