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Lavrov to discuss Middle East, economic ties with Tunisian counterpart

The agenda also includes the issues of bilateral relations, including trade and economic ties

TUNIS, January 26. /TASS/. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui on Saturday focusing on the state of affairs in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in the Sahara-Sahel region, in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Lebanon.

The agenda also includes the issues of bilateral relations, including trade and economic ties.

Tunisia plays an important role in Africa and the Arab world in terms of Russian products’ purchases, Moscow has noted. "In 2018, trade turnover with that country amounted to $760 mln (against $511 mln in 2017 - TASS)," the Foreign Ministry said in a commentary prior to Lavrov’s visit. "Russian exports are mainly represented by primary products, though there has emerged a trend of a rising share of processed products. Tunisian imports are mainly represented by agriculture products," the ministry said.

The Russian side has also acknowledged the fact that the work of the intergovernmental commission, which is going to hold another meeting in Tunisia this year, has been quite efficient.

Tourism is a special cooperation area between the two countries. In 2018, 600,000 Russians visited Tunisia, an increase of almost 100,000 compared with the previous year. Moscow "welcomes the efforts of Tunisia’s authorities to ensure proper safety conditions for our citizens," the ministry said, adding that it considers "that issue to be one of top priorities."

Tunisian Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Ali Chihi said earlier in an interview with TASS that the country’s authorities plan to discuss security issues facing the Arab region with Russian Foreign Minister during his visit. "Both sides have usually exchanged views about international and regional issues of common interest particularly in the Arab region: Libya, Syria, the Palestinian cause," the ambassador said. "Tunisian and Russian officials will focus again on these issues and discuss the opportunities for speeding up bilateral cooperation," he added.

The issue of regular flights may be added to the agenda as Tunis is interested in establishing regular air service between the two countries. Tunisian partners are also keen to enhance cooperation in such areas as automobile and aeronautic industry, agricultural machinery, technology, education.