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France's Hollande steps in to calm diplomatic row with Morocco

Published on Feb 25, 2014 10:16 PM

PARIS (REUTERS) - President Francois Hollande telephoned Morocco's King Mohammed VI to try to calm a diplomatic row over two human rights incidents that caused outrage in the former French colony.

Rabat summoned the French ambassador to protest on Saturday after police went to its embassy in Paris in an attempt to question the head of Morocco's domestic intelligence as an alleged accomplice to torture, following lawsuits filed against him in France by Moroccan activists.

Hours later, a second row flared over comments ascribed by an activist to a French ambassador in the United States suggesting Paris was turning a blind eye to abuses of human rights by Morocco in the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony which Rabat annexed in 1975.

The incidents are a rare diplomatic spat between France and Morocco, a strong ally which has faced criticism from rights groups over police abuses, press freedom and judicial independence.

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