Dubai, Jan 15 (PTI) Saudi Arabia today said it hashosted toppled Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali andhis family after they fled their country following a massuprising, an official statement has announced.
The statement from office of Saudi King Abdullah,released on the country''s official news agency SPA, confirmedthat Bin Ali arrived early today in the kingdom after fleeingTunisia, ending several hours of mystery over his whereabouts.
"Out of concern for the exceptional circumstancesfacing the brotherly Tunisian people and in support of thesecurity and stability of their country... the Saudigovernment has welcomed President Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali andhis family to the kingdom," the statement said.
"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands totally alongsidethe brotherly Tunisian people and hopes that they will closeranks in order to overcome this difficult period in theirhistory," it added.
Bin Ali was driven from power after 23 years ofiron-fisted rule by violent protests over soaring unemploymentand corruption.
Arabic media reports said that Bin Ali''s plane hadlanded overnight in Jeddah but his immediate destination wasnot yet known.
Bin Ali had signed a decree handing interimpresidential powers to Prime Minister Mohammad Ghannouchibefore flying out of Tunis.
Rumors earlier suggested that Bin Ali was hoping tofind exile in Malta or Italy while other reports suggested hewould make his way to France.