Obama: US to provide loan guarantees for Tunisia

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the U.S. is providing new loan guarantees to help Tunisia revive its faltering economy.

The North African country was the birthplace of the "Arab spring," the series of pro-democracy uprisings that swept the region in 2011.

Obama made the announcement at the start of an Oval Office meeting Friday with Mehdi Jomaa, Tunisia's interim prime minister.

U.S. backing will make it easier for Tunisia to raise about $500 million from international capital markets at favorable rates. The country is looking to close an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion hole in this year's budget, most likely through borrowing.

Jomaa told The Associated Press before arriving in Washington that, with extremism under control and the transition to democracy underway, it is time to focus on Tunisia's economy.

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