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France - Tunisia

France tries to mend fences with new Tunisian foreign minister

Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie met her new Tunisian counterpart Ahmed Abderraouf Ounaïs in Paris on Friday. It is the first time the two have met. Alliot-Marie caused indignation in Tunisia when she suggested France help President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to deal with the protests that ousted him days later.

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She also came under fire this week when the newspaper Le Canard Enchainé claimed Alliot-Marie had borrowed a private jet from an associate of Ben Ali.

Ounaïs and Alliot-Marie had a working lunch together, which allowed them to “discuss the situation in Tunisia, which France is following with great attention, sympathy and respect”, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero told AFP.

He added that Alliot-Marie hopes to give new impetus to France and Tunisia’s bilateral relations.

The French government has been strongly criticised by Tunisian media for its links with Ben Ali and its support for his regime.

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