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PG starts working and friendship visit in Washington

Published the:  09/07/2017

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(TAP) – The President of the Government Youssef Chahed starts on Sunday a three-day working visit from 10 to 12 July to Washington.

This visit, which coincides with the celebration of the 220th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Tunisia and the United States of America, will "revive consultations on ways to further consolidate Tunisia-USA cooperation and partnership" , said a statement of the Prime Ministry.

"Essentially political," the statement said, the visit will be an opportunity for The President of the Government to meet senior officials of the new Trump administration. He will meet with US Vice President Michael R. Pence and members of the US Congress.

Youssef Chahed will also meet with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

He will also meet with leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including Deputy Director-General David Lipton.

The visit will also be an opportunity to examine means of strengthening the mechanisms for consultation and political, economic and security coordination, notably through the holding of the 2nd session of the Joint Economic Commission, due in the United States and Tunisia, respectively by the end of 2017.

This event will allow, according to the statement of the Prime Ministry, to open new prospects for the flow of Tunisian products to be present on the American market and guarantee the participation of Tunisia in trade fairs and trade shows in the USA.

The Tunisian delegation is composed of advisers to The President of the Government  notably Messrs. Taoufik Rajhi, Minister Adviser for Economic Reform, Fayçal Hafiane, Adviser, Lotfi Ben Sassi, Investment Advisor and Tarak Ben Salem, Diplomatic Adviser, as well as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Sabri Bachtobji.

This trip, the first of Youssef Chahed as Prime Minister, comes at a time when the new budget of the Trump administration for the year 2018 provides for a significant reduction of the military and economic aid to Tunisia.

A source from the US embassy in Tunis told TAP that "the new finance bill does not require the bilateral financing of foreign military forces (FMF) for Tunisia and by country."

"The elimination of the article which corresponds to the FMF of the new draft country finance bill represents a change in the approach of the Administration with regard to financing and military assistance worldwide,” the source explains.

It adds in substance: "this change in the budgetary approach does not imply any change in the US policy towards Tunisia nor a change in approach on our strong partnership with Tunisia and the Tunisian armed forces. Tunisia remains an essential partner for the United States."

"This draft finance bill presented to the US Congress is not yet adopted and does not reflect possible additional actions and programmes for security and other initiatives that could be implemented to achieve the common objectives of the United States and Tunisia, "the same source added