Despite Successes, Algeria’s Bouteflika Disappointed with France’s Visit
The Algerian president Abdulaziz Bouteflika has expressed disappointment about the outcome of his four-day state visit to France, BBC.online reported Saturday.
Despite agreements on debt restructuring and new concessions on visas for Algerians visiting France, Bouteflika said that he felt he was leaving Paris empty-handed, said BBC.
The report said Bouteflika's visit was billed as marking new warmth in Franco-Algerian relations, but the old frostiness has not completely disappeared. The visit was only the second by an Algerian leader since independence from France in 1962.
One of the areas of disappointment appears to have been the failure to make progress on restarting Air France flights to Algiers. They have been banned for security reasons since 1994.
Bouteflika was received with full honors during this first visit of an Algerian leader to France for 17 years, but his presence focused attention on what is seen as France's last great colonial wound.
During his speech to parliament, the Algerian president asked France to make the kind of apology for its occupation of his country that it did for its role in the Holocaust.
However, BBC said the visit had its successes. The French Finance Ministry announced that, pending approval from the Paris Club of creditor nations, France would write off $60m of Algerian debt.
Under the arrangement, French companies would also undertake to invest a similar sum in Algeria.
At a meeting with the French Minister of Finance, Laurent Fabius, Bouteflika also got agreement on stepping up economic co-operation and establishing a Franco-Algerian business club.
France is Algeria's biggest creditor and is owed a total of $3.4bn.
In another breakthrough, Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement announced that rules governing visa applications from Algerian nationals are to be loosened to allow more people to visit France for short stays, said the report.
It was also confirmed that a new French consulate will be opened up in the Algerian town of Anaba in 2001, and that the consulate-general in Oran, which had closed, will be re-opened, according to BBC.online – Albawaba.com
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