By Houda Mzioudet,
Tunis, 18 April, 2015:
The Tunisian president, Beji Caid-Essebsi, met yesterday in Tunis with the Libya Dawn regime’s prime minister . . .[restrict]Khalifa Ghwell. The Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid also attended the talks.
According to a the Tunisian presidency statement, Ghwell briefed the two about his side’s position on the UN-brokered dialogue in Morocco.
Other topics discussed included the security situation at the Tunisian-Libyan border and the poristion of Tunisians in Libya.
This is the first official visit of the rump GNC’s government, which no other government in the world recognizes, and represents both something of a coup for it and a thawing in its strained relations with it the anti-Islamist government in Tunis.
The visit was a low-profile and given minimal coverage in Tunisia. Some members of Essebsi’s party, Nidaa Tounes, had expressed opposition to any type of “normalisation” of relations with what they term “militias of Libya Dawn”.
Officially, Tunisia does not recognise the Tripoli government but deals with it in regard to its interests, mainly security. It has reiterated its support of current UN dialogue and that it stands at equal distance between the two Libyan protagonists, Libya Dawn and Operation Dignity.
The “neutral” position is seen as prompted by concerns about the fate of around 50,000 Tunisians in Libya, mostly in the west of the country.
Essbesi met with Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni three weeks ago when the latter was visiting Tunisia.
In a related move, Tunisian Defence Minister Farhat Horhani unveiled a strategy plan on Friday to secure Tunisia’s border with Libya against the infiltration of radical Islamist fighters as well as weapons and other smuggled goods from Libya.
His ministry is to set up a series of additional checkpoints along the border on illegal routes being used by smugglers.
There are also ongoing discussions with France about financial help in setting up an electronic border on the Libyan frontier.