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1ST LEAD French president in Algeria for first official visit By Youcef Tazir and Nehal El-Sherif, dpa

Europe
06.12.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Algiers (dpa) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday arrived in Algeria for his first visit to the North African country since taking office in May, for talks aimed at boosting ties with the former French colony.

Macron met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as part of the French leader‘s visit of "work and friendship," state news agency APS reported without providing details.

Macron‘s one-day visit comes amid speculations in Algeria about the health of Bouteflika, who has been hospitalized numerous times in France during the past 11 years.

Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013. The 80-year-old has been in power since 1999. His current term ends in 2019.

Earlier Wednesday, Macron conducted separate meetings with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and Deputy Defence Minister Ahmed Gaid Saleh.

The French leader also laid a floral wreath at a memorial of dead fighters from Algeria‘s independence war against French colonialism.

Macron‘s trip aims to underline the deep ties between the two countries and strengthen economic links, Elysee Palace sources said ahead of the visit. Regional issues, including troubled Libya - a neighbour of Algeria - and the African region of Sahel are on Macron‘s agenda.

Macron last visited Algeria in February, when he was campaigning for the presidency.

Ahead of the visit, Elysee sources hinted that Macron would not repeat his comment during the campaign trip that colonization had been a crime against humanity.

This was reflected in his interview with two Algerian dailies, al-Watan and al-Khabar, in which he said: "As a head of state that colonized parts of Africa, and because I represent a generation that did not live this period of time, I believe France inherited this past and we should not forget it."

"But I am convinced our responsibility is not to remain tied to this past and drown in it," Macron added in the interview, published on Wednesday.

Macron plans to travel to Doha afterwards.

On Thursday, he is to meet with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for talks focusing on combatting terrorism. They will launch the first high-level dialogue between the two countries on the fight against terrorism.

In recent months, Macron has made high-profile efforts in attempting to defuse several crises in the Arab region.

 

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