Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali held talks Wednesday on Iraq, the Middle East conflict and combating "terrorism" with Washington's US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns, according to officials.
Burns arrived in Tunis on Tuesday to complete a North African tour. He told a press briefing that the US "appreciates Tunisia's cooperation in the battle against terrorism." Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia attended the talks with Ben Ali and Burns as well.
Asked whether Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was believed to be active in North Africa, Burns said, "al-Qaeda not only threatens the United States, but also our friends in the region, with whom we are determined to fight terrorism."
In addition, Tunisia was making commendable "efforts to promote peace in the Middle East", Burns told the press conference.
Moreover, Washington plans to pursue cooperation with Tunisia under a joint trade and investment accord signed in October, as well as within established partnerships between the United States and the Maghreb countries and Washington and the Middle East, he said.
On Tuesday, Burns inaugurated an imposing new US embassy in northern Tunis, which is a mixture of traditional local and modern architectural styles built at a cost of over 42 million dollars, according to AFP.
"This investment is an indication of the confidence we have in relations between the United States and Tunisia, which date back for two centuries," Burns was quoted as saying.
Burns was set to return to Washington Wednesday. (Albawaba.com)
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