Tripoli, March 16: Libya, Tunisia and Egypt have announced they are setting up a joint initiative for “political coordination and consultation.” . . .[restrict]The announcement was made at a press conference in Tunis on Friday following talks there by Libya’s Foreign Minister, Ashour Ben Khayal and his Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts, Rafik Abdessalem and Mohamed Amr.
The initiative aims in part to boost cooperation in fighting terrorism, drug smuggling and organised crime as well as ensuring improved border controls.
Tunisia’s Foreign Minister said “the situation in Libya” needed greater surveillance because of weapons trafficking and the dangers from terrorists.
The ministers also said that the initiative would also promote judicial cooperation. A statement mentioned the extradition of those who pose a threat to security and stability of the three countries.
However, the new organization is also being seen as the foundation of would may turn into an economic bloc.
In a press statement issued in Cairo on Thursday, the deputy foreign minister Amr Rushdie said that it was time for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya to take advantage of their close proximity and the significant economic opportunities that this could provide. “Close borders can be used to our advantage, not just as things which separate countries,” he added.
The ministers called the initiative “a core” for cooperation but said it was not an alliance or axis, and that it was open to the rest of the region to join. They said that they did not see it replacing the Arab Maghreb Union, which includes Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria, or being a rival to it.
They said that it would work to ensure political consultation and the coordination of diplomatic policy in various regional and international forums.
It would also stimulate economic cooperation between the three countries so as to enhance bilateral trade. It intends to encourage the movement of capital and labor across the three economies.
They added that Algeria’s Foreign minister Mourad Medelci had been asked to join the trilateral talks but that he had been unable to do so because of previous commitments.