German foreign minister to tour North Africa

6th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will on Saturday embark on a North African tour, one year after the Arab Spring to promote democratic reform efforts, a spokesman said.

The trip will begin in Algeria, where Westerwelle will call for a more ambitious timetable for reforms as well as more scope for German non-governmental organisations to work, in talks with Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, the spokesman told reporters Friday.

On Sunday in Libya, Westerwelle will meet leaders of the interim government for discussions focused on German assistance for those wounded in the war to topple Moamer Kadhafi and in securing weapons stashes.

Germany, and Westerwelle in particular, faced sharp criticism last year for abstaining in a UN Security Council vote to authorise its NATO partners to extend a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent the slaughter of civilians by Kadhafi's forces -- the only European Union or NATO ally to do so.

But it has since pledged its support for the country's reconstruction in the post-Kadhafi era.

In Tunisia, the birthplace of the uprisings against authoritarian regimes that swept the region, Westerwelle will Monday discuss "concrete measures to promote democracy and economic development" with President Moncef Marzouki including improving job prospects for young Tunisians.

The EU has voiced concern about a rising tide of "economic refugees" in the wake of the Arab Spring.

© 2012 AFP

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