Egypt and Tunisia`s leaders meet post-revolt

The Presidents of Egypt and Tunisia pledged to open a new chapter in relations following uprisings that overthrew longtime rulers.

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2012, 11:49 AM IST

Cairo: The Presidents of Egypt and Tunisia pledged on Friday to open a new chapter in relations following uprisings that overthrew longtime rulers, replacing them with a Muslim Brotherhood figure and an activist who was exiled.

After meeting with Egypt`s new Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in Cairo, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki told reporters in a joint press conference that the two nations will rebuild ties based on "shared experiences" after what he described as decades of tense relations.

"I will not say we are starting from scratch, but one thing for sure is that we are moving ahead with relations that for years and years were stagnant and routine without friendliness or warmth," Marzouki said.

"A new era of relations has begun between the two nations," echoed Mursi.

Marzouki was exiled for his political activism and Mursi was jailed for his activities with the Brotherhood under the two nations` old regimes.

When Tunisians overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last year, it helped inspire Egypt`s revolt against longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. Both countries saw Islamists rise to power in free elections after.

Success of the uprisings in the two North African nations inspired similar pro-democracy revolts in Libya, Yemen, Syria and other countries.

Marzouki said the two leaders specifically discussed the Syrian uprising and their support for the Syrian people, but that both oppose foreign military intervention as a means to ending the bloodshed that activists say has claimed more than 17,000 lives.

Mursi`s meeting with the Tunisian President comes a day after he returned to Egypt from Saudi Arabia on his first visit abroad since assuming the presidency last month.

Upon his arrival on Wednesday to Saudi Arabia for the two-day visit, Mursi was greeted at the airport by Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, who is also defence minister and prime minister.

He then met King Abdullah, security officials and the governor of Medina while performing a small Islamic pilgrimage with his wife, according to official news reports from both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Mursi`s predecessor Mubarak had forged close ties with the Saudis during his 29-year rule, and media reports have described them as unhappy with the arrest and trial of a friend and ally and that they`d offered him asylum. Saudi officials have consistently denied these reports.