French foreign minister visits Algeria in push for Libya peace talks

French foreign minister visits Algeria in push for Libya peace talks
The French foreign minister is the latest to visit Algeria's new president Abdelmadjid Tebboune in an effort to strengthen ties with the former colonist.
3 min read
22 January, 2020
World leaders are flocking to Tebboune [Getty]

France is the latest country to reach out to Algeria to establish economic and political ties with new president Abdelmadjid Tebboune, as the ambitious leader thrusts his country into the diplomatic lead over the Libya crisis.

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met with Tebboune on Tuesday to establish firm links with the North African giant, once its colony.

Tebboune came to power last month in controversial elections that prompted the continuation of pro-Democracy protests across the country.

Le Drian is the first senior French government official to visit Algeria since the justice minister a year ago.

"The presidential elections took place. There is now a new government and France wants to work with it," Le Drian said.

"President Tebboune has shown an ambition for Algeria — one of deep reform, to reinforce governance, the rule of law and freedoms," he told reporters.

The Algerian leader's vision also seeks "to revive the economy in accordance with the aspirations that Algerians have shown for the last year", Le Drian said.

International legitimacy

Le Drian's words provide legitimacy for a government that does not have it at home, with weekly protests across the country every week demanding for the end of the current political elite - which includes Tebboune.

Read More: Haftar at the gates: How Libya's crisis forced Algeria to come out of diplomatic hibernation

Tebboune, once a prime minister under Bouteflika, won the December election amid an official turnout of less than 40 percent.

Analysts believe voter participation was substantially lower, in a context where the Hirak protest movement viewed the election as a ploy by an unreformed elite to consolidate its power.

Le Drian’s visit came amid international efforts to resolve the conflict in Libya - a neighbor of Algeria - and crises in the Sahel.

Tebboune was among invitees to a summit on Libya held in Berlin on Sunday.

"We were together in Berlin, the day before yesterday, on Libya's conflict and we will coordinate our efforts beyond even... a sustainable cease-fire" and recreating a political dialogue between Libya's warring parties, Le Drian said.

"We will also take stock of the situation in the Sahel and recall our common objectives of security and fighting against terrorism," he added.

Tebboune met with world leaders to discuss Libya [Getty]

Earlier this week Tebboune said Algeria is ready to host a dialogue between the warring parties in Libya to find a political way out of the crisis.

"Algeria is keen to remain in the same [neutral] position with all the parties to the conflict," he told world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the Berlin conference.

"We want to build bridges between them," he added.

Tebboune also called the participants of the conference, including Russia's Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, France's Emmanuel Macron, and Egypt's Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and a dozen or so others (with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo representing the United States) in helping to broker a peace. 

"This would include a stable truce, the suspension of arms supplies to the Libyan parties and an invitation for them to return to the negotiation table," he said.

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