UPDATE - Egypt, Morocco FMs hold talks in Fes

RABAT (AA) – Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar on Friday concluded talks with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Morocco's central city of Fes following a recent diplomatic row between the two countries.

"Mezouar expressed his pleasure with receiving Shoukry in Morocco and stressed the need to build a strategic partnership between his country and Egypt," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Ati said in a statement.

Abdel-Ati said the meeting had tackled a number of important regional issues, particularly the political situation in Libya, developments on the Palestinian front and counterterrorism cooperation between Morocco and Egypt.

The ministers also discussed developments in the Western Sahara region, the dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front, and the importance of reaching a political solution in war-torn Syria, according to Abdel-Ati.

"Any attempt to cause rifts between the two countries [Morocco and Egypt] is an act of desperation," the spokesman said, noting the two countries' "shared responsibility for the Arab world and the African continent."

"The Moroccan foreign minister stressed that his country supported the will of the Egyptian people following [the ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi on] June 30, and that Morocco would always stand together with Egypt," Abdel-Ati said.

Shoukry, for his part, said that both countries share the "same vision," especially in terms of building strategic relationships and identifying common goals.

Shoukry arrived in Fes on Thursday night at the head of a high-level Egyptian government delegation.

In a Wednesday statement, the Egyptian embassy in Rabat had said Shoukry would visit Morocco on Jan. 15 to deliver a message from Egyptian President Abel-Fattah al-Sisi to the Moroccan monarch.

Egyptian and Moroccan diplomatic sources said the visit was aimed at getting past a recent diplomatic row between the two North African countries.

Last month, diplomatic relations soured after 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 2013 ouster by the army as a "coup."

Diplomats from both countries have offered different reasons for the seeming change in Morocco's tone vis-à-vis the Egyptian leadership.

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