Top US senators join business trip to Tunisia , Egypt

© AFP/Getty Images/File Win McNamee

AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Top senators John McCain and John Kerry will accompany a delegation of US business leaders on Friday to Tunisia and Egypt to discuss economic opportunities in the North African countries, McCain’s office said.

McCain, a Republican, and Kerry, a Democrat, will visit the two countries with General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, along with officials from Boeing, Coca-Cola, Bechtel, ExxonMobil, Marriot and Dow, confirmed McCain’s office on Wednesday.

On Friday, the delegation planned to meet with current Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, and representatives from the business community.

The group will then head to Egypt on Saturday and Sunday, where they will meet Prime Minister Essam Charaf, the head of Egypt’s Armed Forces Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawiand, and Egyptian business leaders. They will also visit the Cairo Stock Exchange and a Coca-Cola factory.

The visit comes as the two lawmakers join Independent Senator Joe Lieberman in sponsoring a bill to create economic assistance funds for Egypt and Tunisia, both rocked with popular unrest and subsequent regime change in recent months.

The purpose of the funds is to provide capital to local entrepreneurs in the hope of creating “thousands of jobs,” which both countries desperately need, said Kerry, who chairs the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

In proposing the bill, the elected officials urged the United States to back the revolutionary movements across the region known as the “Arab Spring.”

The money, tens of millions of dollars, would be provided by funds already allocated to the US State Department.

The bill’s text was approved in May by Kerry’s committee but must still be adopted by the Senate as a whole, and then the House of Representatives, before going before President Barack Obama for approval.

© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license

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