As part of his North Africa tour, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper met with Tunisian President Kais Saied, and the Tunisian Minister of Defence Ibrahim Bartagi. Terrorism, regional stability, and the sovereignty of African countries were top items on the agenda of those meetings.
The US Defence Secretary and the Moroccan Defence Minister signed a 10-year Roadmap for Defence Cooperation "which builds on the strong, longstanding, and strategic partnership between the two countries and codifies how the United States and Tunisia will work together closely over the next decade to contribute to stability and security in Africa and beyond," said the US DoD in a press release.
The agreement looks to advance shared security interests and concerns. "The road map also recognizes the importance of the U.S.-Tunisian relationship in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Tunisia is a "security exporter" in the region, participating in many exercises and cooperating with other nations in security matters," said the United States Africa Command (Africom).
"The United States' enduring partnership with like-minded countries — including here in North Africa — is key to addressing these challenges," said the US Defence Secretary Mark T. Esper.
US activity in Africa seems to stem from the worry of the Americans that Russian and China have already established their presence in the continent through cooperation on the military, economic and political levels.
Esper said during a speech in Tunisia: "Today, our strategic competitors China and Russia continue to intimidate and coerce their neighbours while expanding their authoritarian influence worldwide, including on this continent."
This is the first time a US Secretary of Defence visits Tunisia since Leon Panetta in 2012.