Chirac Arrives in Tunisia at Start of North African Tour
French President Jacques Chirac arrived in Tunis, Saturday, the first stop of a short official visit will take him to three-nation North African tour aimed at coordinating international opinion following the September 11 attacks.
He was welcomed at the airport in pouring rain by his Tunisian counterpart, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and reviewed a guard of honour in a VIP hall.
The two presidents then left for the presidential palace at Carthage where they were scheduled to hold talks for at least an hour.
Chirac was due to hold a press conference after the meeting, before leaving for Algiers, where he was due to share an evening meal with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and to visit parts of the city devastated by flash floods last month.
The final stop late Saturday was due to be in Morocco where Chirac is due to meet King Mohammed VI in Rabat on Sunday before returning to France.
His message to the three countries' leaders will be that the US-led campaign against terrorism is not a campaign against Islam and is banking on their support, according to French officials.
France has close economic links with all three ex-colonies, and several million North African immigrants or their descendants live in the former mother country -- AFP
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