Tunisian opposition agrees to transition talks

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Tunisia's opposition coalition agreed on Friday to start direct talks with governing Islamists on a transition plan under which the government would step down and make way for a caretaker administration and new elections.

The agreement follows weeks of unrest that erupted after the assassination of an opposition figure in July. The secular opposition accused the moderate Islamist ruling party, Ennahda, of tolerating the Islamist militants it blamed for the assassination.

Issam Chebbi senior official in the Salvation Front told Reuters the opposition decided to accept the initiative, proposed by the powerful UGTT labor movement which has been mediating in the dispute, "without any conditions".

Tunisia, where the overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 was the first "Arab Spring" revolt, has been caught in deadlock for weeks, delaying a political transition that had been seen as one of the more successful among the region's nascent democracies.

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