Tunisia-Iran Foreign Relations
In 2007, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stated that “Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear technology.” Previously, in 2005, the Tunisian ambassador to Iran reiterated that Tunisia would not alter its position supporting Iran’s right to pursue nuclear technology. In a February 2008 meeting between Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davoudi and Tunisian Industry and Energy Minister Afif Chelbi, Chelbi voiced his country’s support for Iran’s efforts and felicitated the Iranian nation and government on the country's nuclear successes, adding that the IAEA report clearly attested to the thoroughly peaceful nature of Iranian nuclear program.
Tunisia and Iran have pursued strengthening bilateral economic ties through the formation of joint commissions. In 1998, Iranian Minister of Labor Hussein Kamali met with the Tunisian Minister of Social Affairs Shazli Nafani in Tehran to discuss bilateral cooperation in technical and vocational education and qualification courses for workers. In 2004, Tunis and Tehran signed several memoranda of understanding on economic cooperation, energy ties and trade through a joint economic commission meeting. In that same year, the two countries signed an agreement for the construction of an Iranian trade center in Tunisia. Iranian Ambassador to Tunis Seyed Baqer Sakhaei stated that Iran viewed Tunis as a gateway to the North African market. At that time, annual trade exchanges between Iran and Tunisia was estimated at $45 million, which is below Iran’s desired volume.
During the Iranian 2007-2008 calendar year (March 21, 2007 to March 20, 2008), trade relations between Iran and Tunisia increased by 60% as compared with the same period between 2006-2007. In 2007, Iranian Deputy Agriculture Minister Sha'ban-Ali Nezami and Tunisian Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources Mohammad Habib Haddad signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to collaborate in the fishery sector promising expansion of mutual cooperation, exchange of experts, and implementation of joint scientific and research programs within the fishery sector.
An economic summit to discuss bilateral trade between Iran and Tunisia was scheduled for June 2010 during an April 2010 meeting between Tunisian Ambassador Hatem al-Sa`em and Iranian Minister of Commerce Mehdi Ghazanfari. This will be the 11th meeting of the Iran-Tunisia Joint Economic Committee, whose last meeting was held in March 2009. Trade between the two nations was valued at $53 million during the fiscal period ending February 19, 2009.
Bilateral relations between Tunisia and Iran have expanded in the last decade. In January 2000, Tunisian Minister of Culture Abdulbaki Al-Harmasi and his Iranian counterpart Ata Allahmha Jarani initiated a three-year cultural and scientific exchange program that focused on matters of elementary and higher education, health, tourism, sports, and Islamic affairs. In February 2008, Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davoudi held talks with Tunisian Industry and Energy Minister Afif Chelbi to discuss broadening bilateral relations across all fields.
Bilateral relations between Iran and Tunisia are also manifested through cultural exchange. Iran and Tunisia opened a joint exhibition of Islamic calligraphy works at Tunisia's Assad Ibn El Fourat cultural center in the city of Kairouan in December 2009. Both countries described the exhibition as an opportunity to bring artists of the two countries closer together and to share their artistic and cultural experiences.