The European Union has signed a partnership deal with Tunisia’s President Kaïs Saïed, partly aimed at combating people trafficking.

Tunisia has become the main departure point for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Announcing the deal in Tunis, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised increased cooperation on border management and search and rescue operations.

Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Georgia Meloni said it was an important step towards creating a true partnership in tackling what she called “the migration crisis”.

Members of the European parliament have called for the deal to be conditional on respect for democracy and the rule of law in Tunisia. President Saïed dissolved parliament in 2021 and has re-written the constitution.

In recent months black Africans in Tunisia have suffered waves of racist violence, following controversial comments from President Saïed,who claimed there was a conspiracy to change the Arab-Muslim country’s demographics.

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