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France announces 500 million euros loans and grants deal for Tunisia

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France will provide Tunisia with500 million euros ($645 million) in loans and grants to support the North African state’s democratic transition, French President Francois Hollande said on Friday.

“In the next year we will give Tunisia loans and grants worth 500 million euros,” Hollande said in a speech to Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly. Sixty million euros of Tunisian debt will also be converted into investment projects, he added.

Hollande is on the first visit to Tunisia by a French head of state since the 2011 revolution that toppled former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, following tension between the two countries over former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s support for Ben Ali. ($1 = 0.7744 euros)