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Israel and Morocco Reported on Verge of Expanding Their Ties

Israel and Morocco are reportedly on the verge of expanding their ties.

While the expansion would not create diplomatic relations between them, the two countries are reportedly set to announce economic measures including air, telephone and mail links.

Morocco has been at the forefront of Arab countries open to contacts with Israel.

The Israeli Embassy here said Monday that it could confirm the general direction of the information reported in Monday’s New York Times about the agreements.

The article said Morocco’s King Hassan “has decided to broaden his country’s economic cooperation with Israel in a major step toward the eventual normalization of relations.”

The paper cited Clinton administration officials as sources.

Embassy spokesman Dan Arbell said he could not go into details of the Times report.

But sources in the pro-Israel community said Monday that they had heard from a very senior State Department source that the New York Times story was true.

The Moroccan Embassy here would not comment on the article.

Arbell of the Israeli Embassy said, “We do detect” on the part of Morocco “a trend that illustrates more normalization” of Israeli-Moroccan relations.

The Times reported that Israeli national airline El Al and the Moroccan airline, Royal Air Maroc, had agreed on flights between Israel and Morocco.

In addition, the Times reported that the two countries planned direct phone and mail links, and that Israel’s two chief rabbis would visit Morocco.

Also, Israel and Morocco would set up joint banking arrangements and would increase the number of contacts among officials from both sides, the Times reported.

A State Department spokesman said Monday that such agreements would be “the sort of measures that would be important for providing support” in the region for the peace process, but added that the department had no further comment on the specifics of any agreements.

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