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Essebsi’s Adviser: ‘We Deal with Trump Just Like his Predecessors’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Political Adviser to Tunisian President Minister Noureddine Ben Ticha. Asharq Al-Awsat

Tunisia-The Political Adviser to Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, Minister Noureddine Ben Ticha, confirmed that his country will deal with U.S. President Donald Trump just like it dealt with his predecessors, considering the dispute on his policies an internal U.S. affair.

Ben Ticha explained that differences between Washington’s European allies with Trump’s administration will not affect Tunisia’s foreign policy.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the minister stressed the cohesion of PM Youssef al-Shahed’s government and expected the problems of Nidaa Tounes to be resolved ahead of local elections scheduled to be held end of 2017.

He downplayed fears over a decision allowing soldiers and security personnel to vote in the upcoming elections.

Ben Ticha further noted that Essebsi’s planned visit to Rome on Wednesday will focus on convincing economic and political decision-makers in Italy to urge tourists and investors to return to Tunisia after the work atmosphere has improved and after security and stability have been achieved.

The Tunisian minister said his country shares common interests and continuous consultations with Italy and EU member states, including talks on legal and illegal immigration and problems over thousands of asylum requests from those fleeing wars and conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that he is optimistic about the return of Europeans and tourists, especially that Tunisia witnessed last summer a rise in the number of visitors from Russia and several Arab countries.

Regarding Tunisia’s effort to reach a settlement in Libya, Ben Ticha said that this initiative was taken after years of armed conflicts and disputes among Libyans.

He said that Tunisia has been receiving for many years hundreds of thousands of Libyans, which were recently estimated to have reached two million refugees.

He noted that Tunisia is characterized by receiving Libyan officials and leaders from different movements and political and military parties as they meet regularly with his country’s senior officials.

Furthermore, the senior adviser said that the initiative is open for development and interaction with Libyans, Arabs and the U.N. under the condition of respecting its major components, which are the rejection to exclude any Libyan political party, holding onto a peaceful settlement because a military solution is ruled out, in addition to the importance of reaching an inter-Libyan solution.

On the other hand, in regards to the return of Tunisian militants who have fought with terrorist groups abroad, including Syria, Ben Ticha said that Tunisia is following the files of extremist youths, and is seeking to deal with the issue firmly in line with the international law and the constitution.