Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the United States was looking to Morocco "to be a leader and a model" in the region as the two countries launched their first ever strategic dialogue, AFP reports.
Clinton also insisted it was time for the two nations to build on ties which stretched back to 1777 when Morocco was the first nation to recognize an independent America.
"But we're not satisfied with simply having a friendship that is longstanding. We want one that is dynamic, growing, looking toward the future," she said ahead of talks with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad Eddine El Otmani.
She praised Rabat for holding free and fair elections in November and taking steps "to ensure that the government reflects the will of the people," adding that King Mohammed "deserves great credit for the work you've undertaken."
She also commended Morocco for seeking to tackle the issue of child marriage, and said the United States continued to support efforts to find a peaceful solution in Western Sahara.
The two sides were also to discuss the economy and bilateral trade, with the United States providing $1.5 million to try to attract foreign investors and fight corruption.
Clinton said she wanted to boost trade to the United States because "so much trade from Morocco goes to Europe."
"In these tense and turbulent times, it's more important than ever for people of different faiths to exchange ideas, to build understanding, to promote religious tolerance," she said.
"It's one of the great challenges of the 21st century, and it's one we must address together."
Expressing his condolences for the deaths of four Americans in an attack on a US mission in Libya, Otmani said Rabat was keen "to learn what concerns US investors have" as the two nations seek to deepen economic ties.
Thursday's talks were "a very important step in our mutual relationship, and it's very a important turning point in our strategic relationship," he said,
"We will do our utmost best to enrich the strategic relationship for the best interests of all... our people."