TUNIS - Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki vowed on Tuesday to guarantee ex-strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali security and a fair trial as he visited France in a bid to restore strained ties.
At a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, Marzouki said he could guarantee "physical security" and "a fair trial" for Ben Ali, who is in exile in Saudi Arabia after he was toppled in a popular uprising last year.
Marzouki said Tunisia wanted to regain all the assets allegedly embezzled by Ben Ali, as Hollande said France was ready to help Tunisia recover those being held outside France.
Hollande told Marzouki that France would "stand at your side" in Tunisia's transition, as the Tunisian leader said the country had been transformed since its revolution.
"Tunisia is in the process of breaking free... It has a chance of real economic development, but beyond all these achievements Tunisia has regained its pride and its dignity," Marzouki said.
Marzouki arrived in France Tuesday for a three-day visit aimed at rebuilding close links between Tunisia and its former colonial ruler that were strained during the revolution.
Keen to win diplomatic support and maintain strong trade relations, Marzouki was to meet top officials and on Wednesday address the National Assembly the first foreign leader to do so since 2006.