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Tunisia PM to visit Saudi Arabia on Thursday

media Tunisian women hold up saws and signs saying in Arabic, "No welcome, Tunisians against the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to Tunisia", during an anti-Saudi Crown Prince protest in Tunis on November 27, 2018 AFP/File

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed will head to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, two weeks after protesters rallied against a visit to the North African country by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrated the arrival of the crown prince in Tunis on November 27, condemning the kingdom's role in the Yemen war and urging justice over the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Chahed's three-day trip "comes at the request of the Saudi crown prince... and is part of pushing bilateral relations between the two countries to wider horizons," according to a statement put out Wednesday by the presidency.

Prince Mohammed's visit last month to Tunis came as part of a wider regional tour, the first since coming under intense criticism over the October 2 killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The crown prince's stop in Tunis was the first from a member of the Saudi royal family since Tunisia's 2011 revolution.

During the visit he met with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, who said the crown prince was "not merely a guest of Tunisia, he is at home here".

But Prince Mohammed continues to face international pressure over the Khashoggi killing, with Turkey saying on Tuesday it was in talks over a possible United Nations investigation into the murder.

The journalist's killing has led to increased scrutiny over Riyadh's role in the devastating Yemen war.

Some 10,000 people have been killed since 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government in its fight to push back Huthi rebels, according to World Health Organization figures.

Some rights groups estimate the death toll could be five times higher.

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