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Turkish PM pledges to boost ties with Tunisia

(Xinhua)

10:43, September 16, 2011

TUNIS, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged Thursday to boost the relations Tunisia in various areas, Tunisian official news agency TAP reported.

The trade volume between Turkey and Tunisia was "insufficient," Erdogan said after a meeting with Tunisian interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi.

He promised to encourage Turkish investors to promote cooperation with Tunisia in all sectors, including the military industry.

He also stressed the importance of launching a direct shipping service between the two countries.

Erdogan said his country respected the choice of the Tunisian people and would maintain "excellent relations regardless of the results of the forthcoming elections."

Tunisia will hold a vote for a 218-seat constituent assembly on Oct. 23. Latest polls have placed Ennahdha, the country's main Islamic party, ahead of the parties contending in the election, causing concern among Tunisian secularists.

On the relations between Turkey and Israel, Erdogan said Turkey would protect its fleet and would not allow Israel to "act as it pleased in the Mediterranean," referring to a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish ship last year.

The two countries' relations would not be normalized until Israel apologizes over the incident and compensates the families of the victims, he said.

Erdogan arrived in Tunisia Wednesday, the second stop of his ongoing three-nation North Africa tour which has already taken him to Egypt. He is due in Libya Friday.

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