Middle East: Algeria 'terror' talks stand

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The Independent Online
Algeria will take a tough stand in talks with a European Union delegation arriving today, focusing on ways to confront "terrorism" and repeating its demand that European countries crack down on Muslim militants.

Western and Algerian political analysts in the capital Algiers said at the weekend that the Algerian government will insist that it faces "terrorist" acts of violence rather than a political crisis.

It will also tell its visitors it does not need humanitarian aid for victims of a recent wave of massacres in which some 1,100 civilians have been killed in less than three weeks.

"The authorities will argue that the political crisis has long been resolved with the election of a president, a parliament and local councils," one Western analyst said.

Algeria agreed to the EU mission in a rare display of willingness to discuss the bloodshed. But it has rejected any attempts to interfere in its internal affairs and any inquiry into the massacres.

Algeria plunged into civil strife after the authorities in January 1992 cancelled a general election which the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win. More than 65,000 people have since been killed. Most of the attacks on civilians have been blamed by officials and Algerian media on the radical Armed Islamic Group (GIA).

The EU delegation includes junior foreign ministers from the so-called troika - Luxembourg, Britain and Austria.

- Reuters, Algiers