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India, Morocco to expand trade cooperation

India and Morocco have identified pharmaceuticals, agriculture, automobiles and renewable energy as new areas of collaboration to boost their economic relationship, the external affairs ministry said Saturday.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who is on a visit to Morocco, met his counterpart Salaheddine Mezouar and exchanged views on regional and global issues of common concern, including international terrorism, a statement said.

The two sides agreed that their foreign office consultations would be held later this year. Khurshid extended an invitation to Mezouar to visit India at a mutually convenient date.

He said after his meeting with Mezouar that the two countries explored ways and means of diversifying their "phosphate-centric" economic and commercial relations which have an "immense untapped potential".

"To further boost economic cooperation, we have also identified new areas of collaboration such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, automobiles and renewable energy," he said.

Khurshid said India and Morocco have deep-rooted historical links from the days of the famous Moroccan traveller Ibn Batuta in the 14th century and the ties had strengthened since diplomatic relations were established in 1957.

"Our bilateral relations are warm and cordial. There are hardly any areas of divergence of views on bilateral relations," he said.

He said India sees Morocco as a model country, a pillar of stability and progress and an emerging economy.

"We deeply appreciate Morocco's support to India in the UN and other multilateral fora, in particular for the expression of support for a permanent seat for India in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council," Khurshid said.

He said India had proposed setting up of an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centre in Morocco and was taking steps to implement the proposal.

India was also willing to offer additional slots and scholarships to Morocco for training and higher education under various schemes of the Indian government, he said.

India and Morocco signed two memorandums of understanding concerning cooperation in marine fisheries and environment.

Khurshid is on a seven-day visit to Morocco, Tunisia and Sudan that will end Feb 5.