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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06RABAT558 2006-03-29 15:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR'S COURTESY CALL ON NEW MINISTER OF

Tags:   MO PBTS PGOV PHUM PREL PTER 
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FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3225
INFO RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 3855
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 5425
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT PRIORITY 3075
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 4100
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 8739
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA PRIORITY 1475
RUEATRS/DEPTTREAS WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L RABAT 000558 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/MAG, INL, DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2010
TAGS: MO PBTS PGOV PHUM PREL PTER
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S COURTESY CALL ON NEW MINISTER OF
INTERIOR

REF: A. RABAT 531


B. RABAT 552

Classified By: Ambassador Thomas T. Riley for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) Ambassador called on new Interior Minister Chakib
Benmoussa the afternoon of March 28. Ambassador expressed
appreciation for the strong relations between the USG and the
ministry and encouraged the MOI to go forward with anti money
laundering legislation as well as a letter of agreement
allowing funding for security assistance from INL. DCM
thanked the Minister for strong security cooperation with the
US. On the Western Sahara, the Minister said Morocco's path
forward, through the revitalization of the royal council on
Sahrawi affairs (CORCAS), should be seen in the context of
Morocco's commitment to reform. The Western Sahara was no
less challenging an issue than other reforms pursued by
Morocco. Evidently briefed on the latest US human rights
reports and perhaps on Moroccan Ambassador Mekouar's late
March meeting with DRL A/S Lowenkron, the Minister proposed
an informal dialogue with the US mission on human rights
issues to ensure we were getting accurate information. The
Ambassador welcomed the idea. End Summary.



2. (C) Ambassador, accompanied by DCM and Polcouns, called
on new Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa the afternoon of
March 28. Benmoussa was joined by MOI Governor Mohiuddin
Amzazi and Governor for Border Control Khalid Zerouali. The
Ambassador congratulated Benmoussa on his appointment as
minister and expressed USG appreciation for the strong
relations between the mission and the Ministry of Interior.
The Ambassador stressed it was fortunate for the USG to have
a minister who already knew the issues very well, since
Benmoussa had served as MOI Secretary General for four years.
Benmoussa described relations with the US as excellent and
far exceeding the mandate of the MOI. US-Morocco relations,
he said, were good across the board and at all levels. He
had heard that PM Jettou had had a good visit to Washington
earlier in March under the auspices of the Millennium
Challenge Corporation. The Ambassador agreed it was useful
visit.



3. (C) The Ambassador noted the MOI was important to the US
in a number of ways, including in facilitating the work of US
businesses, such as American company Fruit of the Loom which
was seeking resolution of pricing for electricity to power
its plant in Morocco. The Ambassador asked for the
Ministry's support in resolving the problem, as this was a
large American investment in Morocco and one the company had
made after carefully researching the benefits of
substantially increasing its operations to Morocco.

AML and INL Assistance


--------------------------





4. (C) The Ambassador encouraged Morocco to move forward
with long-stalled legislation on anti money-laundering.
Benmoussa responded there was a bill being finalized. The
legislation was at an advanced stage. He agreed that while
Morocco's counterterrorism efforts were good there was always
room for improvement.



5. (C) The Ambassador also hoped the MOI would sign a letter
of agreement with the US that would allow INL-funded security
assistance programs to be implemented. Benmoussa said he
foresaw no problem with this and hoped MOI and the US Embassy
would continue to meet to discuss US-funded assistance
programs since it was in the interests of both countries.

Security Cooperation


--------------------------





6. (C) DCM expressed appreciation for Moroccan security
cooperation with the US, and specifically in providing
protection of the US mission and personnel in Rabat,
Casablanca, and Tangiers. Benmoussa said the cooperation
would of course continue but joked that the level of
attention the MOI gave to US security needs made some other
embassies jealous. Benmoussa added there was new legislation
in the works to regulate and establish standards for the
various private security companies proliferating in Morocco.


Western Sahara


--------------------------





7. (C) DCM asked Benmoussa about his time with the King in
the Western Sahara the previous week (Ref A). Benmoussa said
there were three parallel sets of consultations underway in
Morocco: among political parties, among the population in
general, and now within the new Sahrawi council, CORCAS.
This demonstrated Morocco's serious commitment to autonomy.
CORCAS would not only focus on autonomy, Benmoussa said, but
would also consider development issues. CORCAS enjoyed
strong participation by elected officials, civil society,
women, and youth and provided a balance between various
"sensibilities." CORCAS helped re-dyanmize the pursuit of
autonomy and would help Morocco produce a clear plan. The
Ambassador noted that he had participated in a meeting
earlier that day (Ref B) at the MFA to provide more
information on CORCAS's role and mission. Ambassador asked
Benmoussa about the membership of the council and whether it
included those with different views on the way forward,
specifically those who might oppose autonomy. The Minister
did not answer directly, but stated the process parallels
what Morocco underwent before producing the family code
reforms and the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER).
The Council would help "narrow the gaps," the Minister said.
The Ambassador responded that family reforms and the IER did
not require working with the UN or the Polisario. Benmoussa
said maybe so, but the reforms were also very sensitive.
They were big steps for Morocco to take, as was the autonomy
project. Ambassador added that consultations regarding
Morocco's the Millennium Challenge account compact proposal,
underway this week in Ourzazate, also needed to be genuine,
to avoid the impression that the compact was all cooked up in
Rabat.

Human Rights


--------------------------





8. (C) Benmoussa expressed hope for an informal, periodic
dialogue with the US on human rights issues. He did not
criticize the recently released human rights reports, but
said he an exchange of information on rights issues would be
useful. He wanted us to make sure we were getting accurate
information and a true picture of the human rights situation
in Morocco. He said the MOI would be open and available for
such a dialogue. The Ambassador agreed the mission would be
as well. (Comment: we will follow up on this).

Bio Note


--------------------------





9. (U) Benmoussa became Interior Minister on February 15,
2006 after serving four years as the MOI's Secretary General.
Benmoussa replaced Mustapha Sahel, who is now Morocco's
PermRep in New York. Benmoussa was born in Fez in 1958. He
graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris (1979) and
from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chausses (road
construction) in Paris (1981). He also holds a DESS (diploma
of specialized studies) from the ISCAE (Institute Suprieur
du Commerce et de l,Administration des Entreprises)
(commerce and business management) as well as a Master of
Science from MIT. Benmoussa has held several other
positions. He was research assistant at the MIT
hydrodynamics Laboratory from 1981 to 1983. He then became
head of the Management Methods section at the Road Services
from 1983 to 1985. He also served as consulting engineer in
the research office Conseil Ingnierie et dveloppement from
1985 to 1987, before being appointed Director of Planning and
Research at the Ministry of Equipment. Benmoussa served
successively as Director of the Roads and Road Traffic at the
Ministry of Equipment (1989-1995), Secretary General at the
Prime Ministers Department (1995-1998), Deputy-President of
SONAID (steel company), and President of the Tangier Free
Zone (1998-2000). Since 2000, he has been a member of the ONA
Executive Committee and Administrator General Director of the
group Brasseries du Maroc (breweries). On December 11, 2002,
he was appointed Wali, Secretary General at the Ministry of
Interior. Benmoussa is married and has two children.

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Riley