March 2004
Middle East;Mar2004, Issue 343, p32
The handshake between Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and U.S. leader George Bush was pregnant with far weightier symbolism than is usually the case when two heads of state meet. Ben Ali's visit to the U.S., accepting Bush's invitation delivered in person by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in December 2003 in Tunis, was laden with more import than cementing the existing excellent relations between the two countries. Although Ben Ali traveled to the U.S. solely in his capacity as Head of State of Tunisia, there was no doubt that the eyes of the Middle East and the north African Maghreb region were fixed on him. While there is a general acceptance of U.S. products in Tunisia, import duties levied on American products make them less competitive against similar products from the European Union with whom Tunisia has a free trade agreement. INSET: TUNISIA -- USA LINKS.


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