US Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a 10-year military cooperation deal with Tunis Wednesday during his first stop on a regional tour, hailing US-Tunisia collaboration over the conflict in neighbouring Libya.
The past decade has seen growing cooperation between the Pentagon and Tunisia, particularly on counter-terror training and securing the North African country’s long border with Libya, where jihadist groups operate and world powers back rival sides in a complex war.
They look forward to expanding this relationship to help Tunisia protect its maritime ports and land borders, deter terrorism and keep the corrosive efforts of autocratic regimes out of your country,” Esper said in a speech after meeting President Kais Saied.
Speaking at a cemetery in Carthage housing the remains of over 2,800 American soldiers, mostly killed in World War II, he warned of the worldwide threat posed by “violent extremists”.
Esper also accused US rivals China and Russia of continuing “to intimidate and coerce their neighbours while expanding their authoritarian influence worldwide, including on this continent.”