UAE resuming flights to Tunisia after security concerns resolved

Tunisia stopped flights after Emirates banned Tunisian women from boarding

FILE PHOTO: Emirates Airlines aircraft are seen at Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Ashraf Mohammad/File Photo
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Flights from the UAE to Tunisia are to resume following an exchange of security information, the foreign ministry said, resolving a row over a ban on female Tunisian passengers.

The decision has been taken "in light of extensive cooperation and information received from the Tunisian side" that eased the concerns of UAE airlines, the ministry said in a statement released on the state news agency Wam late on Thursday.

Tunisia's transport ministry said an agreement had been reached after "contacts with the Emirati side at various levels".

The UAE banned Tunisian women from its passenger flights late in December. Tunis later said the UAE was acting on intelligence that female extremists returning from Iraq or Syria could try to use Tunisian passports to stage attacks.

"In light of preventing dangers and threats that should be avoided to the largest degree, and in light of an extensive security dialogue and information received from the Tunisian side, the concerned authorities in the UAE have decided to return to normal procedures before the extraordinary circumstance," the foreign ministry said.

Tunisia suspended flights to Tunis by Dubai-based Emirates airline on December 24 after the airline refused to carry Tunisian women.

The agreement to resume flights stipulates that the Emirati airline must abide by a bilateral aviation accord signed in 2000, and a desire to "avoid any future incident that affects or harms the fraternal relations between the two brotherly nations", the Tunisian transport ministry said.

The UAE had not commented publicly on the issue until Thursday, except for a tweet by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, which said both countries had been in contact about "security measure information", adding that his country valued and respected Tunisian women.

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