Algerian parties' overture

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The Independent Online
Rome (AFP) - Leaders from Algeria's legal and illegal opposition parties, meeting in Rome yesterday, said they had nearly finished a joint statement for Algeria's military regime to propose opening talks and "returning democracy".

The meeting, sponsored by a Catholic church group, aims at ending a civil war that has claimed more than 10,000 lives in two years. But Algiers has denounced the initiative as outside "interference" and declined to send a delegation.

"Tomorrow we shall finish work on a platform that will link all political parties present here towards opening talks" with the regime, said the former Algerian president, Ahmed Ben Bella, who heads the Algerian Democratic Movement.

Anouar Haddam of the outlawed Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), said "there is hope" for a political solution to the crisis.

He said the FIS "firmly supports the armed struggle for a just cause, though [it] is not an end in itself, but a means to re-establish the democratic order in Algeria".

nBonn (Reuter) - German-based supporters of the FIS are acquiring weapons for their cause, but not buying arms in Germany itself, Eckhard Werthebach, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency said yesterday.