U.S. Congressman and head of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, (Republican-California) was in Tunisia earlier this week where he headed a Congressional Delegation which met with President Beji Caid Essebsi, Prime Minister Habib Essid and members of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) including Speaker Mohamed Ennaceur on Thursday, April 7.
After meeting with President Essebsi at the Presidential Palace in Carthage, Royce told reporters: “One of the topics of discussions was how the United States could further assist Tunisia with respect to security, but also with respect to more economic activity. Economic Reforms that Tunisia is undertaking at this time, what could we do to get more trade and investment with the United States and also how the United States could be involved in more participation whether it be on dialogue over democracy or dialogue over the region.”
Royce’s visit to Tunisia comes ahead of a hearing on Wednesday April 13, in Washington D.C. to assess President Obama’s Middle East and North Africa 2017 budget request by the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee of the U.S. Congress’s Foreign Affairs Committee, which will hear testimony from Anne W. Patterson the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and Paige Alexander an Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID, also within the State Department) Bureau for the Middle East.
A day after Royce’s meetings, the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Daniel Rubinstein met with Defense Minister Farhat Horchani on Friday April 8, and was quoted in Tunis Afrique Presse TAP, via a Defense Ministry release as stating that “his country will continue to support the operational capacities of the Tunisian army in equipment as well as the level of training, co-ordination, and exchange of information in matters of fight against terrorism.” adding “the U.S. support will also concern securing the borders.”
The U.S. embassy announced in a statement on Friday, March 25 that the U.S. had disbursed the first installment of a $24.9 million project to install an electronic surveillance system along the recently completed security barrier that spans the 250 km from portion of the Tunisia-Libya border Ras Jedir to Dehiba.