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Spain offers Tunisia a 300mln Euro credit line

Thu 3rd Mar 2011

Spain's PM has offered Tunisia a 300 million euro credit line to aid development of the North African country after recent political unrest.

Zapatero is the first European leader to visit Tunisia since the fall of the regime of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, met with top officials of the transition government, the opposition and civil society to guarantee them Spain's support.

The most urgent matter for the new governmnet concerns the thousands of refugees who are trying to get across the border from Libya and Zapatero said that he is ready to send aircraft and ships to transport them to their countries of origin.

Speaking at a press conference with the Tunisian interim President, Fuad Mebaza and PM Beyi Said Essebsi, Zapatero said that Spain was the first country to send humanitarian aid to Tunis and added that a second plane would be sent to transport refugees.

"We want to be there from the first moment and we want to be in the group of countries that supports with the greatest determination what is happening in the Arab world," Zapatero said. "Each country makes its own history, each people builds its democracy and what is expected from friendly peoples is understanding and help. We're not going to say anything that suggests giving a lecture, but we're going to give all that we are asked for so that the Tunisians feel free," he added.

Zapatero called for the launching of a Marshall Plan-like initiative for North Africa with public support by European financial entities. The financing from the EU would be channeled through the European Investment Bank, which already has a credit facility of more than 12 billion euros for the development of the southern shore of the Mediterranean.

He proposed that each country should commit itself and Spain will authorize a credit line of 300 million euros over the next three years.

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