RABAT - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Morocco on Tuesday to discuss regional security and meet the United Arab Emirates de facto leader Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The trip comes in the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which along with sanctions has sent wheat and fuel prices soaring in a serious blow for import-dependent North African countries.

“We know this pain is keenly felt in the Middle East and North Africa, where most countries import at least half of their wheat,” State Department Acting Assistant Secretary Yael Lempert said before the trip.

Blinken flew in late Monday from Israel where he had joined top diplomats from the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Egypt for a meeting that underlined a seismic shift since 2020 in relations between Arab countries and the Jewish state.

On Tuesday he started talks with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, with the Western Sahara dispute and security cooperation on the agenda -- including the fight against the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda in the Sahel.

The same subjects will loom large in meetings the following day with Morocco’s regional rival Algeria.