President Ben Ali holds talks with Romanian President

Carthage, 10 January 2003 (Tapex)

The relations between Tunisia and Romania and prospects for boosting them as well as current issues were the focus of the first set of talks president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had today with Romanian President Ion Iliescu, who is currently on a two-day visit to Tunisia.

The two presidents, said the official spokesman for the presidency of the republic, reviewed the strong and long-standing relations of friendship between Tunisia and Romania and the development of bilateral cooperation and its future prospects in light of the recommendations of the joint commission meeting held recently in Tunis, particularly in terms of economic cooperation and trade exchanges.

The two heads of state highlighted the need to raise the bilateral cooperation to the level of partnership in light of the two countries' integration into the Euro-Mediterranean space.

They also underlined the need to vitalize cooperation at the level of the private sector especially after the creation of a business council so as to boost trade exchanges and set up a partnership in fields identified during the joint commission meeting and related to the industrial sectors such as agrobusiness.

The two presidents expressed satisfaction at the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of youth and sports and called for broadening the scope of this cooperation to cultural exchanges in consolidation of the relations of friendship between the Tunisian and Romanian peoples.

Presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Ion Iliescu also discussed the current developments in the Middle East, particularly the serious military escalation in the Palestinian territories. President Ben Ali voiced concern about the Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people. He urged the international community to intervene quickly and efficiently to guarantee an international protection to the Palestinians, underscoring the need to resume the process of talks to spare the region further tragedies and work for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace for all its peoples.

The developments of the Iraqi issue were also at the focus of the talks. The Tunisian head of state highlighted the necessity to find a peaceful settlement to this crisis so as to avoid a new war that would have serious consequences on international peace and security.

Addressing relations with the European union, the two presidents underlined the need to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the two countries in light of their belonging to the Euro-Mediterranean space.

They also stressed the two countries' role in boosting the Barcelona process despite the dangerous situation prevailing in the Middle East in such a way as to serve the causes of cooperation, peace and security which are the major stakes of dialogue and cooperation at this level.