TUNISIA. Tunis: President Kais Saied of Tunisia visited Libya on March 17 after the swearing-in with Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
According to a statement by the President’s office, the trip aimed to show Tunisia’s support for the democratic of Libya on a pledge to reunite the divided country and lead it to December elections.
“The visit also aims to strengthen cooperation between Tunisia and Libya and to develop solidarity for increased “stability and prosperity”, said the statement.
Tunisia hosted UN-backed talks between representatives of Libya’s warring factions late last year that helped pave the way for the fragile breakthrough.
Before Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising, the oil-rich country was a major customer for Tunisian farm produce and building materials as well as migrant labour.
The long years of conflict have resulted in prolonged border closures that have hit the volume of business, particularly in the informal trade in consumer goods that is an economic mainstay in border areas.
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Successive Tunisian governments strove to avoid publicly taking sides between Libya’s rival administrations in the east and west that fought themselves to a bloody standstill before making way this week for the new UN-backed unity government led by Dbeibah.
The common front fell apart briefly last year when the current Tunisian President accused the Islamist Ennahda party, which forms the largest bloc in parliament, of being too close to the authorities in western Libya in their Turkish-backed war against eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar.