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Tunisian President Kais Saied to visit France

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Tunisian President Kais Saied to visit France

macron saied
Photo: APP

Tunisian President Kais Saied is set to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris today.

Tunisia, a former French colony, has strong political and economic ties with France. France is Tunisia’s leading trading partner and a top source of foreign direct investment, and the Tunisian community in France consists of about 444,000 people.

As the bilateral relationship became strained over Tunisia’s human rights record, France distanced itself from supporting Tunisia’s current government. However, Paris has begun moving to regain its influence in Tunis to gain local support for its position on the neighbouring Libyan conflict. Macron has criticised the 2011 NATO intervention, which aided the overthrow of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, for creating conditions of instability in the country. France has been tacitly supporting Libya’s latest strongman, Khalifa Haftar, whose self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA) forces are locked in battle with troops loyal to Libya’s UN-recognised government.

Tunisia has remained generally neutral on the conflict but supports the French criticism of NATO. For France, Tunisia also serves as a geostrategic location for providing support for the LNA and preventing the conflict from spreading outside of the country.

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Photo: Robert Ward

In today’s conversation, Saied and Macron will likely discuss Libya and economic issues brought on by COVID-19. In regard to Libya, expect the two to reaffirm Tunisia’s neutrality and potentially expand joint military training.

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