French foreign minister to visit Tunisia to boost investment
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Saturday he would visit Tunisia next week in a show of support for the north African country and its economy after its popular uprising.
It will be Juppe's first visit to the former French colony, where street protests ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January, since he was named in late February.
"Tunisia has in no way been abandoned. We are making a lot of effort to assist it. I'll be going to Tunisia next week," he told journalists on the sidelines of a Paris conference on uprisings in the Arab world.
His staff said the visit would take place in the middle of next week but that exact dates had not yet been decided.
Juppe said his visit would aim to boost European investments in the country as it struggles to rebuild its economy after the uprising.
"The economic transition will be more difficult if the economy does not restart," Juppe said.
"The thing we could do, the most effective thing for our (European) countries... is to massively invest to help countries in democratic transition to re-establish their economic situations and return to sufficient growth."
Juppe took over as foreign minister after his predecessor, Michele Alliot-Marie, resigned following a scandal related to her ties to the former Tunisian regime.
© 2011 AFP