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  Middle East & Africa
Tunisia Envoy Hosts Dinner for Saida Chtioui
Tunisian Vice Foreign Minister's Delegation in Seoul
Mrs. Saida Chtioui (left), secretary of state to the Tunisian minister of foreign affairs, poses with Mr. Lee Kyu-Hyung, South Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs.

Tunisian Amb. Moncef Baati hosted a reception on Dec. 7, 2005 at his residence in Seoul to welcome Mrs. Saida Chtioui, Secretary of State to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and her delegates, who flew into Seoul this week for a bilateral meeting with the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

More than 40 guests attended the function, including Lee Kyu-hyung, vice minister of foreign affairs and trade; Son Je-joo, director-general, Middle East and African Affairs Bureau of the same ministry; and Kum Jung-ho, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and visiting professor of Semyung University.

Among foreign envoys on hand at the reception were Amb. Honorat E. Abeni Koffi of Cote D'Ivoire, Gabonese Amb. Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, Egyptian Amb. Reda El-Taify, Iranian Amb. Jahanbaksh Mozaffari, Moroccan Amb. Jaafar Alj Hakim, Nigerian Amb. Abba A. Tijjani, Omani Amb. Moosa Hamdan Al Taee, Qatari Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi, and Sudanese Amb. Babiker Ali Khalifa, Amb. Carlos M.L. Frota of Portugal, and Belgian Amb. Victor Wei.

Amb. Alfredo Francisco Ungo of El Salvador also came to join with other top foreign envoys. Amb. Ungo currently serves as dean of Diplomatic Corps in Seoul.

Tunisian Amb. Moncef Baati (left) poses for camera with his wife (center), and Mr. Hatem Atallah, director general for the Americas and Asia of Tunisian Foreign Ministry.

At the Seoul meeting, views and information will be exchanged on bilateral relations in general, as well as on the international situation including Asia and the Middle East.

Under the strong leadership of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was re-elected last year for a fourth five-year term.

The election showed the development of Tunisia's society and was a sign that democracy is taking root.

The increasing number of women in diplomacy and politics is part of a general policy aimed at widening the role of women at all levels of the decision-making process.

Against this backdrop, the naming of Saida Chtioui as Secretary of State (junior minister) to the minister of foreign affairs, in the cabinet reshuffle in 2002 came as no surprise, although it was "another first in Tunisia's diplomatic establishment."

Mrs. Saida Chtioui (second from left), secretary of state to the Tunisian minister of foreign affairs, poses with Mr. Lee Kyu-Hyung (third from left), South Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs, Amb. Alfredo Francisco Ungo (right) of El Salvador, Mrs. Baati (second from right), wife of Tunisian Amb. Moncef Baati, Amb. Carlos M.L. Frota (left) of Portugal, and Prof. Keum Jung-Ho.

Chtioui, a former ambassador to Switzerland, is one of six women cabinet members. Prior to the reshuffle, there were four women cabinet members.

Mrs. Saida Chtioui has also been Ambassador to Poland and the UK. From 1981 to 1985 Mrs. Saida Chtioui was Deputy Director for American Political Affairs, and from 1988 to 1993 the Director of the Tunisian Tourism Representation in Vienna with accreditation for Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland. In 1999 Mrs. Saida Chtioui was the Director General for America and Asia.

The percentage of Tunisian female members of Parliament, 11.5 percent, is in fact considered quite high by any international standards. It is a long way from the 1.8 percent in 1966. The ratio of elected women is even higher in local councils. More than one fifth (21.6 percent) of the members of the country's municipal councils are women.

Amb. Hussein Rammal (second from right) of Lebanon poses with Egyptian Amb. Reda El-Taify (second from left), Sudanese Amb. Babiker Ali Khalifa (right). At left is Moroccan Amb. Jaafar Alj Hakim.

Sociologists and political scientists believe the large place occupied by women in the political decision-making process is a necessary reflection of the advances made by Tunisian women towards parity in all walks of life.

In this moderate Arab-Muslim country, where polygamy and repudiation have been banned and the principles of gender equality established since 1956, women have been able to enjoy unique legal advantages. Experts say Tunisian women are likely to continue their lead in the future.

They attribute such indicators to the fact that young women constitute more than 52 precent of secondary school and university students. An important figure that is likely to further anchor the increasing role of Tunisian women in the decision-making process.

Moroccan Amb. Jaafar Alj Hakim (left) poses for camera with Omani Amb. Moosa Hamdan Al Taee (second from left) and Qatari Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi (third from left). At right is Mr. Min Byung-Il, editorial director of The Seoul Times.

Iranian Amb. Jahanbaksh Mozaffari (left) poses for camera with Son Je-joo (center), director-general of South Korean Foreign Ministery's Middle East & African Affairs Bureau, Prof. Keum Jung-Ho (right), former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and visiting professor of Semyung University.

Mrs. Saida Chtioui, Secretary of State to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (center) chats with Mrs. Baati (right), wife of Tunisian Amb. Moncef Baati, and a Korean guest at the reception.

Mr. Min talks with Gabonese Amb. Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet.

Czech Amb. Tomas Smetanka with Nigerian Amb. Abba A. Tijjani

Belgian Amb. Victor Wei at right

Omani Amb. Moosa Hamdan Al Taee

Egyptian Amb. Reda El-Taify and Sudanese Amb. Babiker Ali Khalifa.

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