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'We will try our best in getting 3 Indians held in Libya released'

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-'We will try our best in getting the three Indians captured by the ISIS terrorists in Libya,-' assured Dr Taieb Baccouche, Foreign Minister of...

NEW DELHI: "We will try our best in getting the three Indians captured by the ISIS terrorists in Libya," assured Dr Taieb Baccouche, Foreign Minister of Tunisia. "But remember, many Tunisians are still in their custody, and our efforts to release them have not succeeded yet," clarified the veteran politician. Dr Baccouche, who was here to attend the Africa-India summit, was talking to this correspondent in an exclusive interview, regarding the request made by the Indian Foreign Minister, Ms. Sushma Swaraj, on their release, during their bilateral talks. A professor and scholar, he has served his country in many capacities including as Minister of Education, President of the Arab Institute for Human Rights (since 1998) and the the General Secretary of Nidaa Tounes party, the leading partner in the ruling coalition.

Remembering the decades-old relations between India and Tunisia, he said, Tunisian representative, Habib Bourguiba had attended the Bandung conference, the first Afro-Asian conference held in 1955. Baccouche himself had attended the 60th anniversary celebrations of the conference at the same venue in April this year. “Our relations with India are traditionally cordial and friendly.Tunisian leaders have always expressed admiration for India’s democracy and its leaders and openly acknowledge the strong support India extended to Tunisia in its struggle against colonization,” he said.


He also underlined that the new leadership in Tunisia is very keen on working closely with the Indian Government and establishing stronger ties with India. “Ms. Swaraj and I held fruitful discussions on a wide range of issues of mutual interest as well as ways and means to promote our cooperation in all fields including scientific research, IT, pharmaceuticals, trade, investment and tourism.”

On the future of the present four-party coalition government in his country, which was formed after peaceful elections last year, the minister said he was confident of completing its five-year term. All the four parties are represented in the government, and many ministers are technocrats. The coalition partners maintain cordial relations, he added. The constitution, which was drafted in consultation with all parties including civil society, has been acclaimed as one of the most progressive in the region. Indeed, the key role of civil society in the democratic transition of Tunisia has been internationally recognized by awarding Nobel Peace Prize to four Tunisian organizations, “the National Dialogue Quartet”.

Asked about the problems that Egypt is facing after the elected government was thrown out by the present regime, he said the situation in Egypt is different and one cannot generalise a particular situation that is happening in another country, with ours. "Arab Spring," was a term coined by foreign powers and media, he clarified.
He also said India's 'Father of the Nation,' Mahatma Gandhi, had an influence on him along with Nelson Mandela. “The legacy of Gandhi and Mandela should be further promoted”, Baccouche concluded, saying “Tunisia has shown to the world that inclusive and peaceful dialogue is the best way out of conflicts.”

By Jose Kalathil
kalathil.jose@gmail.com
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