John Kerry Says U.S. Will Join Fight Against Tunisia’s Islamist Militants

John Kerry Says U.S. Will Join Fight Against Tunisia’s Islamist Militants

Written by Arshad Mohammed and Patrick Markey | From Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday praised democratic progress in Tunisia, where the “Arab Spring” began, and offered to help the North African country’s fight against Islamist militants.

During a brief visit to Tunis, Kerry said Tunisia and the United States would start a strategic dialogue, usually meaning regular high-level meetings, beginning with a trip to Washington by Tunisia’s premier.

After a crisis last year brought on by the killing of two opposition leaders, Tunisia adopted a new constitution and the ruling Islamists stepped aside for a caretaker administration to govern until elections.

Kerry’s visit was to highlight progress since the 2011 uprising that brought down autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali as well as the compromises new Tunisian leaders have made, unlike their Egyptian and Libyan counterparts, said U.S. officials.

“I wanted to come here today to confirm on behalf of the American people and President Obama our commitment to stand with Tunisia and the people of Tunisia and to help move down this road to democracy,” Kerry said after meeting Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa.

Tunisia’s new constitution and steps to full democracy have been praised as a model in a region still widely unstable since popular revolts in 2011 that ousted long-standing rulers in Egypt, Yemen and Libya.

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