FM: Saudi Crown Prince Visit to Tunisia Supports Strong Historic Relations

Published November 29th, 2018 - 12:01 GMT
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (C) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) upon the latter's arrival at the presidential palace in the capital Tunis on November 27, 2018. (Fethi Belaid / AFP)
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (C) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) upon the latter's arrival at the presidential palace in the capital Tunis on November 27, 2018. (Fethi Belaid / AFP)

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui welcomed the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to his country, highly valuing the distinguished bilateral relations between Riyadh and Tunis.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Jhinaoui revealed preparations carried out by Tunisia, in coordination with Saudi Arabia, for the upcoming Arab Summit that will be held in Tunis in March. The high-level meeting is expected to be attended by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who will hand over the Summit presidency to Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi.

He also stressed that the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit confirmed the “longstanding relations between Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, which began more than 70 years ago, when Saudi Arabia supported the Tunisian National Liberation Movement against French colonialism at the political and financial levels.”

“Saudi Arabia is today the third economic investor in Tunisia as a state, through the Saudi Development Fund, the Islamic Development Bank and dozens of joint institutions,” he stated.

Jhinaoui noted that the Arab Summit held in Dhahran last April, chaired by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, decided unanimously to organize the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis in March.

“In Tunisia, we are about to complete logistical and organizational preparations for this summit,” he said.

Asked about political developments and regional changes in the Arab Mashreq countries in general and the Gulf countries in particular, the foreign minister emphasized that regional changes have confirmed the presence of positive indicators internally and regionally, including economic and development indicators and victories on terrorism, especially after the adoption of a near-comprehensive cease-fire in Syria.

“We believe that the success of the domestic political process in more than one Arab country is also a positive indicator. In this context, I would like to highlight the success of the general elections organized in Bahrain a few days ago. We congratulate the leadership and the people of Bahrain on the great turnout and the political move, which was welcomed by the Arab League and the majority of the international and regional parties,” Jhinaoui said.

Commenting on the recent Tunisian, Algerian, Egyptian, and international political efforts to end the crisis in Libya, which has affected Tunisia at the economic, political and security levels, the official underlined that the success of these efforts would not only benefit the Libyan people but all their neighbors, especially Tunisia, “which is the only country that has never closed its borders to the Libyan brothers despite the complexity of security and military conditions in their country.”

“Tunisia hosts hundreds of thousands of Libyan brothers fleeing the war, whom we have never considered as refugees, but as guests; and they are still welcome despite the accumulation of their debts in Tunisian clinics and institutions,” Jhinaoui remarked.

He noted in this regard that the Tunisian president has participated in the Paris International Summit on Libya in May and then the Palermo summit around two weeks ago. He added that he personally visited Tripoli, Tobruk and Benghazi in July and met with the three presidents and all the disputing parties.

“We will also participate in the meeting of the foreign ministers of Libya’s neighboring countries, which will be held on Thursday in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, and in a meeting in Cairo on Dec. 9,” the Tunisian minister said.

“These efforts, which support the course of the UN-backed political settlement announced in Skhirat, can succeed if the Libyan parties take the initiative to end their old differences and prepare the atmosphere for a comprehensive Libyan reconciliation,” he concluded.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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