The funds will be provided over three years through the French Development Agency (AFD) and comes in addition to existing aid making Morocco the largest single recipient of French aid.

  

The new aid will be channelled into modernising the country's infrastructure, particularly in the fields of transport, housing, health and education, Raffarin told reporters. 

  

Raffarin was speaking after an audience with King Mohammed VI at his residence in Tetouan in the north, where they were joined by Moroccan Prime Minister Driss Jettou and the French and Morrocan foreign ministers, Dominique de Villepin and Mohammed Benaissa.

 

Significant

  

Paris' gesture comes two months after Morocco's economic capital Casablanca was rocked by a string of deadly attacks which killed 44 people.

  

It is “necessary to fight the evil at its roots, by tackling the problem of poverty," Raffarin added.

  

Jettou welcomed the announcement of the extra aid as a "significant reinforcement of financial cooperation".

 

It is "necessary to fight the evil at its roots, by tackling the problem of poverty." 
-- French Prime Minister    Jean-Pierre Raffarin

Raffarin was travelling with several key members of his government including de Villepin, Transport Minister Gilles de Robien, Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei and Junior Industry Minister Nicole Fontaine.

  

The visit was also aimed at preparing for French President Jacques Chirac's state visit to Morocco in October, which will seek to strengthen bilateral strategic ties, according to the French foreign ministry.

  

More than 500 French companies have a presence in Morocco, where they employ over 65,000 people.