Libyan leader begins state visit to Algeria
ALGIERS LIBYAN leader Mustapha Abdeljalil, head of the council that overthrew Moamer Qadhafi, arrived in Algeria on Sunday for a state visit that comes amid a period of strained relations.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and an entourage of senior government officials and foreign diplomats met Abdeljalil at the airport when he arrived around 4:00 pm (1500 GMT), an AFP photographer said.
The two-day visit “offers an opportunity to confer on the latest developments in the region in light of recent events”, Bouteflika’s office said in a statement.
Abdeljalil’s trip, planned several months in advance, “will allow the two parties to go ahead with an exchange of views on different questions of mutual interest, both Arab and international”, the statement added.
The two leaders met twice in November on visits to Qatar to meet with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the emir of Qatar, in Doha.
Algeria was initially lukewarm toward the revolution in its eastern neighbour, and Libya still wants Bouteflika’s government to hand over several members of the Qadhafi family who are in exile there.
After the anti-Qadhafi rebellion broke out last year, Algeria criticised NATO’s military support for the rebels, and kept quiet on the African Union’s calls for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict.
Algeria finally recognised the National Transitional Council on September 22, following the African Union’s lead.
Tripoli also wants Algiers to hand over several of Qadhafi’s family members to stand trial, including his daughter Aisha, his brothers Mohammed and Hannibal, and his mother Safiya, all of whom fled to Algeria in late August.
But relations between the two countries have been slowly improving.
In March, their interior ministries signed an agreement in Algiers to implement joint border patrols and share regional security information.
The Libyan conflict has led to arms trafficking across the porous 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) border with Algeria.