French interior minister in Tunis for security talks

16th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant began a visit to Tunis on Monday, saying he planned to discuss security needs, a day after Tunisia arrested two men suspected of having links to Al-Qaeda.

"I came here to meet with my colleague the interior minister because security is also an area of cooperation between our two countries," Gueant told journalists.

Tunisian officials on Sunday announced the arrest of two men, one Algerian and one Libyan, suspected of belonging to Al-Qaeda's north Africa branch.

They were found in possession of an explosive belt and a homemade bomb, according to Tunisia's interior minister Habib Essid.

Gueant's first met with Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi.

"We want to accompany Tunisia on its road to freedom and toward democracy in all areas," Gueant he said after that meeting.

Gueant, who arrived in the capital in mid-afternoon, is expected to sign a security deal with Essid.

"The French government and also the French people, I must say were surprised (and) did not expect the revolution in Tunisia," Gueant said, referring to the popular revolt that ousted longtime president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January.

"We followed with enthusiasm and continue to follow with great interest what happens" in Tunisia, he added.

Tunisia's prime minister is due in Paris on Tuesday to meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy before France hosts the G8 summit on May 26 and 27.

Tunisia will for the first time attend the summit, which will be held in Deauville in the northwest of France.

© 2011 AFP

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