Libyan interim PM discusses border closure with Tunisian president

FILE PHOTO: Tunisian President Kais Saied takes the oath of office in Tunis, Tunisia, October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souiss/File Photo

Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh met President Kais Saied in Tunisia on Thursday after tensions in recent weeks over border closures during the coronavirus pandemic and security threats.

Dbeibeh's office said they had agreed that the Libyan and Tunisian health and interior ministries would prepare a joint protocol for reopening air and land borders as soon as possible.

Tunisia's presidency said in a statement that "bilateral relations should be protected to guarantee a better future".

The two countries have been in dispute this summer over the pandemic-induced closure of borders, a row that deepened after officials in each country said the other posed a security threat.

The dispute has developed since Saied's announcement on July 25 that he was seizing governing power and suspending parliament, moves that his internal critics have called a coup.

Tunisia has been open to Libya during most of the decade of instability since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and it hosts numerous diplomatic and aid missions focused on Libya.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; editing by Grant McCool)

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