Tunis — The privileged relations between Tunisia and Algeria and the will to raise them to the highest levels in different fields have been the focus of talks Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem has had since Monday with members of the Algerian Government.
These talks have been held on the sidelines of the FM's attendance of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Algiers last July 9 to discuss the situation in matters of security in the region.
The FM conferred indeed with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci and Minister in charge of Maghreb and African Affairs Abdelkader Messahel about "the importance of sustained co-ordination and consultations on means to develop bilateral relations and strategic co-operation for the benefit of the two brotherly peoples' mutual interests and the boosting of the Maghreb process on the way of complementarity and integration."
According to a communiqué of the Ministry released on Wednesday, these talks also allowed to discuss "regional issues of mutual interest and the main challenges facing the Maghreb region."
The Algerian officials insisted on the occasion on the particularity of Tunisian-Algerian relations and on the strong will of Algerian authorities to reinforce these relations and build-up active partnership as part of "consensus, consultations and complementarity between the two countries," the same source reported.
The stress was also put on the need to hold the meetings scheduled at the level of joint sector-based commissions as agreed at the 16th follow-up session held last April in Algeria, ahead of the 19th session of the High Joint Committee due to be held in Tunis before the end of the current year.
Speaking at a news conference held in the premises of his department, FM Rafik Abdesselem described Tunisian-Algerian relations as "privileged" and "close" since they are founded on strong bases including neighbourliness, fraternal ties and common history.
The amount of trade exchanges between the two countries stands at 300 million dollars, he said, adding that this figure remains beyond the expectations of the two countries' officials.
Bilateral relations represent a model in matters of Maghreb and Arab complementarity in an international context characterised by the pre-eminence of economic blocs, he declared.
As regards the issue relating to the free movement of people and goods between the two countries, the FM said it had been the subject of a thorough study by both sides at the level of the follow-up committee meeting last April, adding that the study had reaffirmed the strong will of both sides to take care of concerns of Algerian nationals in Tunisia and vice versa, pending the 19th session of the High Joint Committee scheduled in Tunisia before the end of 2012.
As for the Algerians who want to visit Tunisia, Mr. Rafik Abdessalem announced that there will be no particular measures and that ordinary procedures are kept in force.