Esper arrived in Tunisia and met with senior officials including the country’s President Kais Saied. He laid a wreath and delivered a speech at the World War II Cemetery to commemorate the battle in North Africa. American soldiers killed.
This trip was not announced until after Esper left the country.
Tunisia was once touted as the only democratic success story of the “Arab Spring” in 2011. In 2015, it was designated as the “U.S.’s main non-NATO ally” and cooperated with the United States to develop a linked group of anti-terrorism efforts against ISIS.
At a meeting of the Tunisian Ministry of Defense, Esper and his opponent signed the “Decade of Defense Cooperation Roadmap.”
In a speech at the North African American Cemetery, Esper said: “The United States will continue to deepen our alliances and partnerships across the African continent, including cooperation with Tunisia. Tunisia’s democratic government and sovereignty have made much of our work in the region Maybe.” Carthage Memorial.
He added: “We look forward to expanding this relationship to help Tunisia protect its sea ports and land borders, stop terrorism, and keep the corrupting efforts of the authoritarian regime out of your country.”
The United States has been working hard to help Tunisia consolidate its border with Libya. Tunisia has been plagued by civil war. It has recently deployed 40 US military advisers to the country. This is part of the Army Security Forces Assistance Group to help Tunisia fight terrorism. group. High-profile attacks have been carried out in the country since 2011.
The United States is also Tunisia’s largest supplier of weapons. According to the International Policy Center, the United States provided nearly 50% of its weapons imports from 2015 to 2019. The Trump administration approved the sale of four AT-6C King Kongs to Tunisia in February. Wolf light attack aircraft, a set of munitions is estimated to cost 325.8 million US dollars.
Defense officials said that during the period in North Africa, Esper was seeking to curb Russian and Chinese activities in the region.
Esper said: “Today, our strategic rivals China and Russia continue to intimidate and coerce their neighbors, while expanding their authoritarian power worldwide, including on this continent.”
The US accuses China of seeking to expand its influence in the region through predatory loans. The US military accuses Moscow of deploying Russian mercenaries and fighter jets to support the pretentious Libyan general of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar. , One of the militants in the civil war.
Esper said: “We will continue to work together to stop the vicious, coercive and predatory behavior in Beijing and Moscow in order to undermine African institutions, weaken national sovereignty, cause instability, and use resources throughout the region.”
Esper also visited the Republic of the Island of Malta on Tuesday, becoming the first US Secretary of Defense since President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Defense Mel Laird visited the country in 1970. The country is independent of Only six years in the UK.
While in Malta, Esper met with Prime Minister Rob Abella and President George Villa on Wednesday.
Although the military strength of Malta is small, with a total of about 2,000 personnel, it is located in a strategic location on the coast of North Africa and has an important port. It was the main base of the Royal Navy until the 1970s.
A senior defense official told CNN that Espey plans to discuss maritime safety issues with Maltese officials, which is a major issue given the country’s proximity to shipping and smuggling routes connecting Europe and North Africa.