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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hundreds protest Clinton visit in Tunis

Tunis (ANTARA News/AFP) - Hundreds of Tunisians, including Islamists, marched through central Tunis Thursday to protest the visit of US Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton but no incidents were reported.

It was the third such demonstration in three days against Clinton, who earlier Thursday opened talks here with interim President Foued Mebazaa, who replaced ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The demonstrators chanted "Hillary Clinton, you are not welcome, get out", "No colonisation after the revolution," or "No to US tutelage on Islamic soil", as they warned against any US intervention in neighbouring revolt-wracked Libya.

"She came before the upcoming elections to impose the US strategy on Tunisia. But dream on. We brought down a dictatorship and we also know how to protect our country," said 60-year-old Naziha Bahri.

The new caretaker government has scheduled elections for mid-July.

Meanwhile, another group of 30 to 50 demonstrators burned a picture of the chief US diplomat outside the foreign ministry and chanted anti-US slogans.

Police and army troops were deployed in the area.

Earlier, Clinton pledged to help Tunisia create jobs and undertake reforms to keep the momentum behind the uprising that overthrew Ben Ali two months ago.

She said an international donors conference would help to focus minds on Tunisia`s needs.

New government officials and other Tunisians understand "we need a plan for economic development, for jobs," Clinton told reporters during a tour of Tunisian Red Crescent offices.

Apart from Mebazza, Clinton will also hold talks with Foreign Minister Mouldi Kefi and interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi. And her visit will take in meetings with young people who took part in the mass protests.

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