Remarks
Jeffrey D. Feltman
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Tunis, Tunisia
January 26, 2011


Reuters Soundbites:

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Assistant Secretary Feltman (Jan. 26): "The United States stands with the people of Tunisia. This is an exciting and unprecedented moment in Tunisia's history. With great challenges but also great opportunities for the Tunisian people to chart their own course. And Tunisians, with us, have been clear: for that to happen Tunisia needs free, fair and inclusive elections that usher in a new government and a new system. But clearly there needs to be careful preparations for elections. And we urge all parties to use this interim period to prepare for these elections and to shape their vision for this country's future. The United States, and the international community, stand ready to assist as appropriate and as requested."

"There are a heck of a lot of challenges that Tunisia faces right now. Of course expectations are very high. Look at what you have achieved already. This would have been almost unimaginable just a few weeks ago. So I know that the expectations in terms of economic progress, in terms of investment in terms of job creation, in terms of getting to these free and fair elections, the expectations are very high."

"Yesterday, when ambassador Gray and I went to our ministerial meetings downtown, we went through the demonstrations and I find that a symbol of the new Tunisia that people are able to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. I don't think any of us should be frightened by the thought of peaceful assembly. It's a right that we recognize around the world. What happened in Tunisia strikes me as uniquely Tunisian. That the events that took place here over the past few weeks particularly Tunisian grievances, from Tunisian circumstances by the Tunisian people. But the challenges that are faced here are in some cases shared."

"And we think governments everywhere should be finding ways to permit peaceful assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the media in order to give people a say in how they are governed and to give them a stake in the future. Civil society, youth, other groups are part of the solution not something to be dictated to by any government."