Morocco's King Hassan the Second met French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing on Friday (16 February) for discussions focusing on the change of government in Iran and the conflict int he Western Sahara.
LV INTERIOR President Giscard d'Estaing shaking hands with King Hassan of Morocco in foyer of Elysee Palace, paris with guards outside. King Hassan walks out to waiting newsmen. (3 SHOTS)
CU King Hassan replying to newsmen's questions in French.
SV & LV King Hassan walks past guard of honour.
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Background: Morocco's King Hassan the Second met French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing on Friday (16 February) for discussions focusing on the change of government in Iran and the conflict int he Western Sahara.
SYNOPSIS: The two heads of state met for the first time since 1976; then the Moroccan Monarch visited France on a state visit. But this visit was private. As King Hassan explained to newsmen, he came to seek President Giscard's council on two subjects of the greatest importance to Morocco, Iran and the Western Sahara conflict.
King Hassan is host tot he Shah of Iran. But the Istiqlal Party, which is in coalition with the government, many -- according to political observers -- try to dissuade the King about his hospitality to the Shah. On the other hand, the King is said not to be worried about he change of government in Teheran. He believes iran's new Islamic fervour will not spread to other Arabian states.
More immediately important to King Hassan is the conflict int he Western Sahara. Morocco and Mauritania divided the Western Sahara between themselves, after Spain's colonial rule ended in 1976. Since then both countries have fought the local Polisario Front, who claim the area as an independent territory. Mauritania's economy is said to have been seriously weakened by the Polisario. And only last month the guerrillas laid siege to the Moroccan city of Tantan. The Polisario is an Algerian backed force. And from Algiers, too, there have been suggestions that the French President may mediate int he Western Sahara conflict. King Hassan in understood to have asked President Giscard to mediate between Rabat, the Moroccan capital and Algiers.
Morocco has close economic ties with France. It is by far the country's largest trading partner. The Moroccan monarch said he expected these ties to be consolidated.