Burns met Ben Ali: partnership program office opened in Tunisia
Tunisia-USA, Politics, 10/28/2003
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Joseph Burns said in Tunis yesterday before he had moved to Morocco that the US will open in its embassy in Tunisia a regional office to supervise the implementation of Washington's initiative concerning the expansion of democracy and revitalizing reforms in the Middle East.
In a press conference held in Tunisia, the second station in a Moroccan tour started in Algeria, Burns said that choosing Tunisia as a headquarters for the regional office to implement the partnership initiative between the USA and the Middle East came because of the pioneer role played by Tunisia in social and economic reforms.
Burns defended his country's determination to contribute to further democracy, and social and economic freedoms in the Middle East, but he stressed the importance and the priority of the self initiative stemmed from the need and individuality of every and each society, culture and country. Burns added " what the US can do is to ensure resource and encouragement to make the change which should stem from the region itself. It cannot be imposed from the US or others."
Burns considers that the region can benefit from the positives of the American model. He added "It seems that peoples in the region are angry on several issues, a matter which makes groups like al-Qaeda organization exploit this situation." But he stressed that the US will not bring in the solutions.
Burns held talks with each of the Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the foreign and defense ministers.
Concerning the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Burns stressed that the US is preoccupied with the building of the separation wall because this will affect the results of any likely negotiations and will make additional problems for the Palestinians and weaken the hope for the foundation of two states living side by side in peace. On the Iraqi crisis, Burns said that it is in the interest of the international community, Iraq's friends and the Iraqi people to have in the region a united and stable country.
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