Foreign policy decisions are made mostly by the king, helped by a very narrow circle of close advisors. Morocco never ceases to cultivate friendly ties with the West (mainly Europe and the United States) in order to reap economic and political benefits while maintaining a fairly independent foreign policy. This has brought economic assistance and generous supplies of military hardware, especially from France and the United States.
In 2000, Mohamed outlined his plans to take full advantage of economic and political relationships brought about by globalization, specifically a better Moroccan-Euro-Mediterranean partnership, while still attempting to protect the kingdom from negative effects often associated with worldwide integration. To that effect, Mohamed expects to continue to strengthen ties with the EU, the United States, and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the latter of which includes Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Mauritania. Though Morocco was unable to obtain full membership in the EU, in 2000 it became the second North African state to implement an EU association accord, which will pave the way for free trade with the EU by 2012.
Close ties with the countries of the Middle East and contributions to the Palestinian cause have brought Morocco generous financial assistance from Saudi Arabia. Participation in the 1992 Gulf War on the side of the U.S.-led international coalition brought more consideration and assistance from its Arabian Peninsula friends and the West, even though popular sentiment overwhelmingly supported Iraq. After the signing of the peace accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993, Israeli prime minister Itzhak Rabin visited Morocco. The following year, Morocco hosted the first Arab-Israeli conference on regional economic integration. Like his father, Mohamed now serves as chairman of the Islamic Conference's Jerusalem Committee and continues to state his position that Jerusalem be shared by Muslims, Christians, and Jews with East Jerusalem becoming the capital of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Mohamed has declared that "the defense of the nation's territorial integrity," is a top priority in attempts to insure Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara. The dispute over the fate of the Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony seized by Morocco in 1975, continues to affect Morocco's relations with Spain, Algeria and with other Maghreb territories. When the Sahrawi Republic was recognized by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and admitted to membership in 1984, Morocco withdrew from the organization. It remains withdrawn from the organization. In 1999, Morocco tried to persuade the OAU to cancel the membership status it awarded to the self-declared republic of Western Sahara. The final fate of that territory was to be decided by a United Nations (UN)-organized referendum scheduled to take place in July 2000. The referendum was postponed, however, as the UN allowed for further consideration of a plan for autonomy designed by former U.S. secretary of state James Baker. Mohamed supports the Baker plan. Morocco wants to make sure that the vote confirms its control over the territory. A contrary result may usher in serious problems for the monarchy and the entire region.