Tripoli, 18 May:
Prime Minister Abdurrahim Al-Kib flew to Tunisia on Thursday at the start of a two-day visit. He and the . . .[restrict]ministerial team accompanying him were met at the Tunis airport by Tunisian prime minister Hamadi Jebali.
Discussions during the two days are focussing on border issues, security, the supply of oil to Tunisia, Tunisian workers to Libya and the involvement of Tunisian companies in Libya’s reconstruction.
At a joint press conference after he arrived, Al-Kib said that Tunisia, as the birthplace of the Arab Spring, held a special place in Libyan affections. He also said that there were plenty of openings for Tunisian skills in Libya. The country welcomed Tunisian labour and companies joining in development and reconstruction projects.
For his part, the Tunisian prime minister said that that Tunisia would not be a refuge for those who threaten Libya. The comment has triggered media speculation that Tunisia will now hand over Qaddafi’s last prime minister, Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi, who is being held in prison in Tunisia following a court order approving his extradition to Libya. However, until now, the order has not had Tunisian presidential approval.
Referring to the case of Saif Al-Islam, Jebali said that Libya had the right to put on trial those who had committed crimes against the Libyan people. Tunisia, he said, was at their service and their revolution, in particular in ensuring the security and stability of Libya. The security of the one country affected that of the other he noted.
Closer economic ties are being discussed. “I feel that there is a broad and a wide sphere of complementary collaboration between Libya and Tunisia,” Al-Kib was quoted as saying at a working meeting according to the local Wataniya TV station.
The Tunisians hope that Libya will provide oil at cheaper rates. Ridha Saïdi, the adviser to the Tunisian prime minister on economic matters, has said that the visit provides an opportunity to expand trade ties, especially in the hydrocarbons sector.
A quarter of Tunisian oil imports come from Libya.
Before leaving for Tunisia, Al-Kib met on Monday with the Tunisian defence minister, Abdelkarim Zoubeidy. He was in Tripoli for a one-day visit to discuss joint security. Discussions also touched on political and economic cooperation. At the time, the government spokesman, Nasser Al-Mana, said there was a will on both sides to strengthen relations between the two countries. [/restrict]