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Tunisia: Migration, economic crisis top agenda of visiting Italian PM

Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, welcomes Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the Carthage presidential palace in Tunis, Tunisia, Tuesday, June 6, 2023.   -  
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Slim Abid/AP


Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni landed in Tunis Tuesday (June 6) for a day of talks with leaders during which she was expected to address the increased numbers of migrants leaving Tunisia for Italy.

Meloni was greeted at the airport by Tunisian Premier Najla Bouden and then held meetings with President Kais Saied.

The two leaders were also expected to talk about energy questions and financial issues that Tunisia is facing.

Tunisia is trying to secure funds from the European Union while struggling with reforms requested by the International Monetary Fund.

Saied has challenged what he called IMF diktats after the body made the granting of a loan to Tunisia conditional on economic reforms and the lifting of certain state subsidies.

Tunisia is also a traditional ally of the EU in their efforts to limit illegal migration.

In April, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani announced plans for Italy to train four-thousand Tunisian workers in Tunisia and then bring them to Italy with work visas and provide them with jobs as part of a new effort to combat migrant flows.

Tajani explained that Tunisia is the first country with which Italy is preparing this type of bi-lateral project.

Italy is struggling with a sharp increase in migrant arrivals this year.

According to Italy’s Interior Ministry, between January and June over 50-thousand migrants have arrived by boat in Italy, compared to just over 20-thousand in the same period in 2022.

Tunisians make up 7% of the total but migrants of other nationalities are increasingly departing from Tunisia rather than Libya.

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