Ben Ali: EU set to freeze Tunisian ex-leader's assets

Ousted Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali
Image caption The assets held in the EU by the Ben Ali family are not yet clear

The EU is close to agreeing to a freeze of assets belonging to ousted Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family.

Switzerland has already announced plans and France has said it intends to block suspicious financial movements.

"There is broad agreement and preparations are ongoing," an EU source told the BBC News website.

The proposals, from the EU's External Advisory Service, will be put to foreign ministers later this month.

The exact nature of the measures is still to be considered by the EU's 27 member states and the assets the Ben Ali family have in EU countries are not yet clear.

In Switzerland, a Tunisian group has said that a building in Geneva and a Falcon 9000 jet are among the family's assets.

French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero has called for a list of names of the Ben Ali family and their entourage to be agreed by EU foreign ministers when they next meet on 31 January.

As well as agreeing on an assets freeze, EU countries are also keen to help Tunisia hold fair and democratic elections and improve its economy.

Among measures being considered are expert assistance in drafting electoral law and a possible liberalisation of trade in agricultural products.