Remarks With Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi Before Their Meeting
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon. Very happy to welcome my friend, the foreign minister of Tunisia, Foreign Minister Hamdi. He and I have had long discussions already, and we agreed earlier in my visit to Tunisia and in our previous conversations to launch a U.S.-Tunisia security dialogue in advance of our interests with respect to a secure and stable and prosperous Tunisia and stability in the region.
The foreign minister has just talked to me about the dangers of what is happening in Libya, and he is particularly concerned about extremism that is creating a failed state there and the challenges that it presents in terms of security on their border. So we have a lot to talk about here.
Tunisia really remains a beacon of hope, and we are very grateful to Tunisia, particularly in the last days, as we decided for safety and security reasons only to temporarily move personnel from Tripoli in Libya to Tunisia, and the Tunisian Government was extremely helpful to us in that and we’re very grateful to them. But perhaps more importantly in the long run, Tunisia is the beacon of hope because it is going through a transition to democracy, and it is holding the line. It has been successful against tough challenges, but it needs help.
There is the threat always of foreign fighters coming back from Syria to create trouble internally in the country, and the United States is deeply committed to supporting Tunisia as it works through to build its own foundations for success in the future, and we intend to work with them.
So Mr. Foreign Minister, I’m happy to welcome you here. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER HAMDI: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary of State. We are grateful to this opportunity to meet with you here to talk a little bit about the situation in Tunisia and in neighboring Libya. We are determined to deepen our relationship with the United States. Our relation with the U.S. has always been extremely good, and we want it to be, at this particular juncture of our history, a strategic one – a strategic one. We all believe in peace. We all believe in no extremism. Extremism and terror has no place in Tunisia, and we are determined to fight it. And we are reaching out to our friends and partners to assist us in times of need, and these are the times of need for Tunisia – to assist us particularly to secure our borders against – to safeguard our borders against those people who do not wish Tunisia to be a stable country, for those people who want to see instability in Tunisia and the rest of the country.
As you said, Mr. Secretary of State, Tunisia is the only – or one of the beacons of hope in that region, and if Tunisia fails, I think the whole region will not be secure. And it is in the interest of everyone that Tunisia succeeds its transition. We are at the last phase of our democratic transition, and we want to succeed. We are determined to succeed, and it’s in the interest for everyone to see Tunisia succeed, to see Tunisia a success story for the region, because if Tunisia does not succeed, the aspirations of hundreds of millions of people will go down the drain for democracy and freedom. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Mongi. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER HAMDI: Thanks.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, my friend. Thank you very much. Thank you. Let’s go meet with our gang. All right. Thank you.