The French Foreign Minister begins official visit to Algeria

The French Foreign Minister, Herve de Charette, sets off on a two-day official visit to Algeria tomorrow, the first ministerial visit for three years and a tangible sign of improving relations between France and its former colony.

Since President Chirac took office, relations have been complicated by the political situation in Algeria, the terrorist attacks in France last year instigated by Algerian Islamic fundamentalists, and recriminations over the Algerian presidential election last November, in which Algeria accused France of interference, and France questioned the democratic credentials of the favoured candidate and victor, Liamine Zeroual. With the terrorist cells in France apparently broken up, and Mr Zeroual in power, the most pressing issue now is the resumption of direct flights between Paris and Algiers.

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