The Foreign Secretary William Hague has arrived in Algeria on the final stop of a tour of North Africa designed to increase British engagement and economic ties in this crucial region.
The visit, the first by a British Foreign Secretary since February 2006, comes at a time of considerable change across North Africa. As the largest economy and most populous country in the Maghreb, Algeria will play a key role in the future prosperity and stability of the region. It has introduced some political reforms ahead of next year’s elections, and this will be a significant topic of discussion during the visit. The Arab Spring also offers opportunities for greater regional integration to the benefit of Algeria, its neighbours and the EU.
The Foreign Secretary will meet President Bouteflika and Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci. He will also hold talks with Algerian civil society.
Speaking on arrival, the Foreign Secretary said:
“I am very pleased to visit Algeria at such an important time for the country and the region.
“All governments in the region have a strong interest in creating more open societies, greater political freedom and stronger economic development, as they seek to meet the aspirations of their people. We welcome the political reforms the government has introduced ahead of next year’s elections. We are supporting these changes through our Arab Partnership programme in the areas of youth employment, civil society capacity building and prison reform.
“I will also discuss the situation in Libya with the Algerian government following my visit to Tripoli yesterday. As a neighbour of Libya, Algeria has an important role to play and I will urge the Government to cooperate with the Libyan authorities and the International Criminal Court as they seek to bring to justice indicted members of the former Qadhafi regime.
“Algeria is also an important partner for the UK in counter-terrorism. We will continue to support Algeria in its fight against Al-Qaeda and to encourage a regional approach to this common threat”.