Westerwelle called on Tunisia's government and opposition to begin talks on how to end the current political impasse in the country. Westerwelle arrived in the capital Tunis just hours after pro and anti-government supporters held rival Women's Day demonstrations, the latest protests in a three-week stand-off.
The opposition has been calling for the fall of the Islamist-led government since the assassination of opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi on July 25, the second such killing this year. It is also calling for a cabinet of independent experts to run the country until elections due to be held in December.
Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki, warned that events in Egypt should serve as an example to Tunisia's politicians to intensify their dialogue.
"Tunisia is not Egypt; and Egypt is not Tunisia" Westerwelle said after his meeting with Marzouki on Wednesday. "But what is taking place in Egypt should not happen in Tunisia," Westerwelle added. "That's why it is important that bridges are built."
Westerwelle's schedule was a busy one including meetings with Foreign Minister Othman Jarandi and the leader of the powerful Tunisian General Labour Union, Houcine Abassi, Islamist Prime Minister Ali Larayedh and representatives of the opposition.
Hamadi Jebali, the secretary general of Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party said on Wednesday that he favored a non-partisan cabinet in what appeared to be a concession towards the opposition: "We need to form a non-political government to lead the country to elections within six months," he said. Jebali also called for the Constituent Assembly to complete drafting a constitution and electoral law.
Tunisia has been developing economic ties with Germany since 2011 when the Islamist Ennahda Party won most seats after elections for the Constituent Assembly.
jm/ccp (dpa, Reuters)