Tunisia and Libya discuss reinforcing economic ties
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali discussed ways of strengthening economic ties in a meeting this week, officials said Friday.
The two leaders on Thursday discussed ways of implementing an accord signed between their countries, which aim to increase trade, establish a free trade zone and pursue joint economic projects, among them an oil venture in the southeastern Gulf of Gabes.
Trade volume between the two neighbors amounts to $700 million year, and is expected to reach a $ billion by the end of 2000.
Kadhafi arrived in Tunis Wednesday for three days of talks focused on re-launching the regional Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).
The UMA, grouping Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, was created in 1989, but has been dormant since 1995 mainly because of disagreement between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara issue.
Algeria backs the separatist Polisario movement in the Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco in 1975.
The union was further strained last November when Mauritania established full diplomatic links with Israel, a move criticized by other UMA members.
On Wednesday, the Libyan and Tunisian leaders called for a "fair, all-encompassing and lasting" peace for the Middle East, and backed Palestinian ambitions of statehood. They also called for the return of occupied territory to Syria and Lebanon.
© Agence France Presse 2000