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- It is a common fight – Tunisia Foreign Minister
Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Following the spate of terrorist activities in the country, the Federal Government has called for military cooperation and intelligence sharing with the Government of Tunisia.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, made the call in Abuja at the end of the Fifth Session of the Nigeria-Tunisia Joint Ministerial Commission.
Onyeama said the exchange was necessary considering Tunisia’s similar experience with the scourge of terrorism.
The ceremony witnessed the signing of agreements and memoranda of understanding between Nigeria and Tunisia.
Tunisia Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui signed on behalf of the Tunisian Government.
The agreements signed between the two African countries include Agreement in the Field of Consumer Protection; a Memorandum of Understanding on Social Affairs; a Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation and Exchanges; a Memorandum of Understanding on the Energy Sector; Agreement on Youth Development and Agreement on Trade Cooperation.
Onyeama noted that Nigeria and Tunisia have entered a new era of diplomatic relations, adding that both countries have a lot of complementarity.
He said Nigeria and Tunisia face very similar challenges, such as the scourge of terrorism and militancy.
Onyeama noted the resurgence of terrorism in Nigeria, characterising it as a tragedy for the nation.
Onyeama however said that under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation was doing everything possible to address the problem.
“We know that your country also has been confronted with terrorist challenges and, as we have said, we have a lot that we can share together in addressing what really is an asymmetric military engagement; and it would depend a great deal on intelligence sharing and other technical know-how sharing,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama said Tunisia and Nigeria played a pivotal role in the promotion of peace and stability at both regional and global levels.
The Minister made mention of irregular migration confronting both countries and called for cooperation in addressing the crisis.
“And so again here, it will be very important for us to cooperate. There are challenges in your sub-region with irregular migration in addition, of course, to the terrorist challenges; and we also in our sub-region have to address issues of migrants and also terrorism. So, we really have to work to address these challenges,” he said.
“We are very supportive of Tunisia seeking to have an observer status within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and we welcome Tunisia’s participation and we believe it will be a plus for our sub-region and yours,” Onyeama further stated.
Jhinaoui, in his response, said terrorism is a common threat to both Nigeria and Tunisia, saying the fight against it is a common fight.
Tunisia, he said, is happy that Nigeria was quite successful in tackling terror under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“As Tunisia was very badly hated two years ago by those who are not willing to see Tunisia, as well as Nigeria, becoming a vibrant democracy, so this is a common fight.
“There is a common will from both sides to fight terrorism and we discussed the possibilities and the opportunities of expanding exchanges between services and people dealing with this subject,” Jhinaoui stated.
The Tunisia Foreign Minister expressed hope that after the visit, the contacts established with government officials will generate increased cooperation to fight terror.