Iran Receives Algerian Ambassador after Eight-Year Freeze
Iran received an ambassador from Algeria on Sunday after an eight-year break off in relations, as Iranian President Mohammed Khatami lauded "a new era" in the countries' ties.
"The exchange of ambassadors opens a new era in our relations, which are going to develop in all areas thanks to the two countries' political will," Khatami said in receiving Ambassador Abdelkader Hajar.
Khatami, cited by the state news agency IRNA, said the two countries' relations looked bright because of "the experience of the two great revolutions, Algerian and Iranian."
The president praised "the revolutionary past" of the new ambassador, saying his appointment "expresses the firm determination and good will of Algerian leaders to develop relations between the two countries."
Hajar, 63, is a philosopher by training who fought during Algeria's war against French colonialism. He was wounded and jailed for five years.
Hajar, who has also been Algeria's ambassador to Syria and Libya, served as ambassador to Iran in 1993, but was in place just five days before the countries broke off relations.
Khatami and Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika decided to re-establish diplomatic ties in September after a meeting on the sidelines of the UN Millennium Summit in New York.
Iran has named as its ambassador to Algeria former member of parliament Mohammed-Reza Mavalizadeh, a prominent member of the conservative bloc.
Algiers broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran in 1993, accusing Iran of openly supporting Algerian radical Islamist rebels, whom the Algerian authorities blame for the bloodshed in that country since 1992.
Bouteflika was elected president in April 1999, one day after all the other candidates withdrew from the race alleging electoral fraud in favor of Bouteflika, widely regarded as the army's candidate.
His electoral victory drew a cool response from Tehran. But Bouteflika soon praised reformist moves by the Khatami administration, while Tehran has supported Bouteflika's bid to bring about national reconciliation in Algeria, which has included an amnesty for Islamist rebels.
The two countries have on a number of occasions found themselves taking similar positions on foreign policy and within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
In 1979, Algeria expressed support for the Islamist revolution which overthrew the Shah, and later served as a mediator between Iran and Iraq during their 1980-88 war -- TEHRAN (AFP)
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