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06 June 2023

Tunisian president makes first official visit to Algeria


Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki arrived Sunday in Algeria for his first official visit, during which he is to push for a revival of the Arab Maghreb Union.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia met him at Algiers airport at the start of his two-day visit, the final stage of a regional tour during which he has been promoting the Arab Maghreb Union.

He and his advisers met Algerian ministers at the president's residence in the morning. He is due to hold formal talks with Bouteflika on Monday, after a dinner in his honour this evening.

The five-nation Arab Maghreb Union was created in 1989 as a trade agreement meant to eventually achieve deeper political integration between Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, and Libya.

But it has been inactive since 1994, mainly because of the dispute between Morocco and Algeria over Western Sahara.

Nevertheless, Marzouki said he thought that dispute was not an insurmountable obstacle, Algeria's APS agency reported.

"When you have a problem you can't get over, you must go around it," he said, APS reported.

"Continue discussions and leave the problem within brackets for the moment, leave to the UN to handle," he added.

Marzouki, who became his country's first elected head of state after the revolution that ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has already visited Morocco and Mauritania during his tour of the region.