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Fresh off World Cup match, France ends Morocco visa restrictions

More than 780,000 people of Moroccan origin live in France and visa restrictions have made it difficult for family members to visit.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Paris has restored normal consular relations with Morocco after a year-long dispute related to France’s decision to reduce the number of visas for Moroccans visiting France.

Friday’s announcement comes two days after France and Morocco met in the semifinals of the soccer World Cup in Qatar.

France won the highly anticipated match, which had also generated much discussion of Morocco’s relationship with its former colonial rulers and the links between the two dual-nationality countries. Morocco’s shock qualification to the World Cup semi-final saw the country become the first Arab and first African nation to go that far in the world soccer tournament.

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“Our goal is to improve human exchanges between France and Morocco and enhance the deep ties between our two societies, which makes our relations so particular,” Colonna said at a press conference with his Moroccan counterpart during a visit to the capital. Rabat.

France, under public pressure to curb undocumented migrants, announced last year that it would significantly reduce the number of visas granted to citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia due to the refusal of North African countries to accept back their migrants. citizens living illegally in France.

According to the French Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, there are more than 780,000 people of Moroccan origin in France and the visa dispute has made it difficult for their relatives in Morocco to visit them.

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Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said the French move to normalize relations “goes in the right direction” following tensions sparked by the visa dispute.

Bourita said that France made the unilateral decision to end the visa restrictions after what he said was also a unilateral decision to introduce the restrictions.

“Of course, there were popular reactions and also from people affected by this decision. I think everyone is aware of this,” she said.

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“Today, the decision to restore normal consular relations is again a unilateral decision that Morocco respects and would not officially comment on,” he added.

Both ministers stressed that the two countries were important partners in terms of economy, education and security and shared the same views on many international issues in Africa and the Middle East.

It was not immediately clear if France had received anything in return from Morocco.

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