Fresh from the World Cup game, France ends visa restrictions for Morocco | World Cup news

More than 780,000 people of Moroccan origin live in France and visa restrictions had made visiting relatives difficult.

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

Friday’s announcement comes two days after France and Morocco faced each other in the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar.

France won the much-anticipated game, which had also prompted much analysis of Morocco’s relations with its former colonial masters and the links between the two countries’ dual nationality. Morocco’s impressive qualification for the semi-finals of the World Cup made them the first Arab and first African nation to have made it this far in a global football tournament.

“Our goal is to improve human exchanges between France and Morocco and to strengthen the deep ties between our two societies that make our relationship so special,” Colonna said in a press conference with her Moroccan counterpart during a visit to the capital, Rabat .

Under public pressure to curb undocumented immigrants, France announced last year it would significantly reduce the number of visas granted to nationals from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia because North African countries refuse to accept their citizens who are illegally in France live to take back.

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

Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said France’s move to normalize relations was “in the right direction” after tensions sparked by the visa dispute.

Bourita said France made a unilateral decision to end visa restrictions after, according to him, a unilateral decision to introduce the restrictions had also been taken.

“Of course there were reactions from the population and also from people who were affected by this decision. I think everyone is aware of that,” he said.

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

Both ministers emphasized that both countries are important partners in the fields of economy, education and security and share the same points of view on many international issues in Africa and the Middle East.

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

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