More than 780,000 people of Moroccan origin live in France and visa restrictions had made it difficult for relatives to visit.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Paris has 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.
The announcement on Friday comes two days after France and Morocco played each other in the World Cup semi-final in Qatar.
France won the highly anticipated match, which had also fueled much analysis of Morocco’s relationship with its former colonial rulers and the links between the two countries’ dual citizens. Morocco’s stunning qualification to the World Cup semi-finals made the country the first Arab and first African nation to make it this far in the global football tournament.
“Our goal is to improve human exchange between France and Morocco and strengthen the deep links between our two societies that make our relationship so special,” Colonna said at a press conference with his Moroccan counterpart during a visit to the capital Rabat.
France, under public pressure to crack down on undocumented immigrants, announced last year that it would significantly reduce the number of visas granted to citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia due to the North African countries’ refusal to take back their citizens living illegally in France.
According to the French Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, there are more than 780,000 people of Moroccan origin 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 the French move to normalize relations “goes in the right direction” after tensions fueled by the visa dispute.
Bourita said France had taken a unilateral decision to end restrictions on visas after what he said was also a unilateral decision to impose the restrictions.
“Of course there were popular reactions and also from people who were affected by this decision. I think everyone is aware of this,” he said.
“Today, the decision to restore normal consular relations is again a unilateral decision that Morocco respects and will not comment officially,” he added.
Both ministers emphasized that the two countries were important partners in terms of economy, education and security, and shared the same views regarding many international issues in Africa and the Middle East.
It was not immediately clear whether France had received anything back from Morocco.