Magharebia (Washington DC)

Mali: Algeria, Mali Step Up Security Co-Operation

Algiers — Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita wrapped up a two-day visit to Algiers on Sunday (January 19th) aimed at boosting collaboration with his country's northern neighbour.

Security and the fight against terrorism were central to the talks that the Malian president had with his Algerian counterpart on Sunday. Keita said that he had "come to ask his elder brother for advice".

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika assured his counterpart of "Algeria's complete availability to support Mali in its efforts to boost security and stability, to preserve the country's territorial integrity and to reconcile all Malians through dialogue", according to the official statement issued at the end of the visit.

The first decision taken at the end of the meeting was to unify the various bilateral co-operation mechanisms during the course of this year, namely the bilateral border committee and the Algeria-Mali Joint High Commission for Co-operation.

The two heads of state agreed to set up a bilateral North Mali Committee, which will meet monthly to follow up decisions with a view to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The leaders also decided to implement joint security arrangements regarding the strengthening of military and security co-operation and the fight against terrorism and all forms of trafficking.

The two heads of state reiterated their strong condemnation of the practice of paying ransoms, which helps to finance terrorism, and reaffirmed their desire to contribute to the release of hostages.

Bouteflika and Keita also decided to implement a special programme to develop the economy of northern Mali and border areas in both countries, as well as implement a special humanitarian assistance plan to help the affected communities in regions of northern Mali.

During the visit, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra confirmed that at Mali's request, Algeria had sought to contribute to the international community's efforts to promote an inclusive national dialogue.

The Algerian foreign minister confirmed at the end of the talks that he had with his Malian counterpart "the perfect harmony that prevailed and the desire of both heads of state to address common challenges with regard to regional security and increased co-operation".

"Mali and Algeria have had a friendly and co-operative relationship since they both gained national independence," Lamamra said.

His counterpart, Zahabi Ould Sidi Mohamed, gave an assurance that the two sides were in "perfect agreement about what needs to be done to address the challenges that they both face in relation to regional and sub-regional security and co-operation".

"We have worked with our Algerian brothers on many issues of mutual interest, such as border security and the resumption of bilateral co-operation," Ould Sidi Mohamed said.

The good harmony between the two countries was confirmed by the Algerian interior minister, Tayeb Belaiz, who said that "several issues, including the development of border regions, co-operation between neighbouring communes and provinces and co-operation in the field of security and making the Algeria-Mali border safe were the central issues discussed during the talks."

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