Clinton praises Tunisian democracy, some protest her visit
Mar 17, 2011, 22:07 GMT
Tunisians protesters hold placards as they protest against the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the country, Tunis, Tunisia, 16 March 2011. Clinton is expected later in the day in Tunis for a two-day official visit. EPA/STR
Tunis/Paris - US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged to help Tunisia with its uneasy transition to democracy as she met with the country's new leaders for the first time Thursday.
Some 100 demonstrators protested in the Tunisian capital Tunis against Clinton, the highest-ranking US official to visit since long- time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled by mass protests two months ago.
'We don't want outside interference,' protesters wrote on banners.
Clinton surveyed the country's political landscape and discussed means of economic assistance that the US could offer during Tunisia's transition. The fate of 100,000 refugees who have crossed the border from Libya, where a brutal crackdown against anti-government rebels continues, was also a topic of discussion.
'The Tunisian people have made history once again. You have shown the world that peaceful change is possible,' Clinton said in a press conference with Tunisian Foreign Minister Mouldi Kefi. 'Now we will stand with you as you make the transition to democracy and prosperity and a better future.'
Earlier this week, Clinton had visited Egypt, where she also promised that the United States would help that country on its road to greater freedom and democratic elections.
The US foreign policy chief also encountered some antipathy there, when the January 25th coalition - an association of six youth groups that took part in organizing the protests that led to president Hosny Mubarak's resignation in February - refused to meet with her.
'The American administration supported Mubarak politically. Plus the majority of tear gas that was thrown at the Egyptian revolutionaries was made in America,' its spokesman, Khaled Abd el Hamid, said.
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