12 December 2012

Algeria: Nation, Libya Plan Joint Ventures

Algiers — The heads of the Libyan and Algerian governments jointly condemned terrorism and called for stronger ties.

Algeria on Tuesday (December 11th) announced plans to help the new Libyan government strengthen its authority by providing support in the security sector.

"Algeria and Libya have reached agreement over a number of initiatives in the field of security co-operation which will be launched in January 2013," Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan said in Algiers at the end of a two-day visit.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that the first official visit by his Libyan peer represented "a new departure for the future of bilateral relations".

Algeria had already vowed to train the Libyan police. However, that training was postponed at the request of the Libyans, given the tense situation on the ground.

In a joint statement issued at the end of the talks, the two countries "expressed their desire to step up co-operation, co-ordination and dialogue in order to address the risks and dangers which threaten the stability and security of the nations in the Sahel region".

Libya and Algeria each promised to reinforce border security and prevent the "use of its territory to attack... or threaten" its neighbour.

The two parties also condemned "all forms of extremism, terrorism and organised crime while reaffirming their desire to mobilise all necessary resources to tackle these phenomena, which threaten the security and stability of the region".

Regarding the Mali crisis, Zidan and Sellal expressed concerns about the risks to the entire region.

The ministers underlined the similarity between their points of view, saying that the crisis should be resolved through "constructive national dialogue between all those who reject terrorism".

Their final statement stressed the importance of "taking into account the legitimate demands of the various components of the Malian nation with a view to preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Even before the Algiers meeting, relations between the two neighbours were warming up. Algeria was one of the first countries to congratulate Libya on Zidan's appointment.

Libya is equally receptive to improving ties with Libya.

"We want to win over Algeria's heart and we say to our Algerian brothers that our relationship must be founded upon brotherliness and co-operation," Zidan said upon arriving in Algiers.

Next year, the countries plan to hold trade fairs and an economic forum, as part of "bilateral co-operation in the areas of business, trade, finance and investment".

Further, both nations will consider lifting visa requirements for travel across the border. A joint consular committee will meet during the first six months of 2013 to consider this issue.

Algeria and Libya also expressed their shared desire to see the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) project come to fruition.

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