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Top US Diplomat Presses for Democratic Reform in Tunisia

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has pressed for democratic reform in Tunisia, as she met Saturday with Tunisian's president in the latest stop on her North Africa tour.

Rice says she also spoke with Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the capital, Tunis, about security and counter-terrorism efforts and internal Tunisian issues.

Rice traveled to Tunis from Libya, where she became the first U.S. secretary of state to step on Libyan soil in 55 years.

After meeting Friday with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the capital, Tripoli, Rice said U.S.-Libyan relations are "off to a good start." Rice also said the two sides discussed cooperation on trade, culture and education. Libya is a major oil exporter.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Shalgam said the two parties also talked about counter-terrorism and the situations in Iraq and Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

Rice said her visit to Libya shows Washington does not have permanent enemies but noted the U.S. and Libya still have a long way to go to advance their relations.

The U.S. and Libya broke off relations in the 1970s. U.S. warplanes bombed Mr. Gadhafi's compound in 1986 in retaliation for what it said was Libya's involvement in a terrorist attack on Americans. Relations began to improve in 2003 when Libya accepted responsibility for acts of terrorism and agreed to end its weapons of mass destruction program.

Rice's North Africa tour also takes her to Algeria and Morocco.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.