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MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) - 30/04/2014
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(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Meeting Tunisian Premier Mahdi Jomaa for talks Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande vowed to continue support for Tunis in this period of transition and help the country find lasting economic growth in the future.

Jomaa, who already met with other senior officials like Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and chies of French industry in Paris, expressed in a press conference thanks to Hollande for his ongoing support, noting the two men had met three times now since the transition process began in Tunisia.

Hollande has visited Tunis on two occasions, most recently in February to celebrate the adoption of Tunisia's new constitution.

Speaking to the press, the French leader stressed the "links of memory" between the two nations and his confidence that the transition process to democratic rule in Tunisia would be completed in the coming months.

"Tunisia has not finished with the process," Hollande noted, but he said he was optimistic elections could be held by the end of the year when Tunisians would be able to express their opinion on developments.

Hollande underlined that France's support went beyond the political transition process and also extended to "economic projects and for development ... to put Tunisia on the path of lasting growth." France has been deeply involved in helping Tunisian economy and in managing the debt issue, which is weighing down growth.

France has 300 companies operating in Tunisia and is the largest foreign investor in that country.

Jomaa, who was accompanied by several ministers and a large business delegation, had a series of meetings with French business leaders in the MEDEF organisation which is composed of CEOs and industry captains. He also met with parliamentary leaders.

Hollande stressed the importance of these bilateral ties and said that "the development of Tunisia is in the interest for the French economy." He said France continues to support Tunisia in converting its debt and that this was something he hoped to see settled at a forthcoming conference on Tunisia in the autumn.

The French president said that he would seek to organise a "Friends of Tunisia" conference in September that would bring investors and creditors together and would include institutional bodies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), among others.

The conference would aim to get investors behind economic projects in Tunisia and also iron out some of the current difficulties with credit for the country.

Last weekend, French and German Foreign Ministers travelled to Tunis to reassure the government on the support of the two European Union powerhouses, not just politically but also economically.

Hollande and Jomaa also discussed security issues and a French commitment to give Tunisia the means to ensure its own security, which could include military helicopters.

Hollande expressed concern about regional security and, in particular, the situation in Libya, where he said efforts must be made to stabilise the situation.

"We must do everything so Libya can find the path of dialogue and the path of democracy," Hollande stated after the talks with Jomaa.

He added he was working with other parties to see if a conference on Libya could be organised by the international community, noting "security is a major challenge in the region."


Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)

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