China's Xi pledges stronger ties with Algeria during Algerian President's state visit
China's President Xi Jinping pledged stronger ties with Algeria Tuesday in a meeting with the gas-exporting North African nation's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, as Beijing looks to diversify its energy supply.
Tebboune began a five-day state visit to China on Monday, his first since assuming the presidency in late 2019.
Algeria, Africa's largest natural gas exporter, has sought to join the BRICS economic group that includes Russia and China and that positions itself as an alternative to Western hegemony.
"China is ready to work with Algeria to strengthen strategic communications, deepen exchanges and cooperation and ensure the steady and long-term development of China-Algeria comprehensive strategic partnership," Xi told Tebboune on Tuesday, according to a pool report, as the two met at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
Tebboune thanked Xi for China's support in Algeria's bids to join BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, saying "China is our most important friend and will help us achieve national development".
"China welcomes Algeria's positive intention to join BRICS, and supports Algeria's efforts to achieve this goal," a joint statement released late Tuesday said, adding that Tebboune had invited Xi to visit Algeria.
China has made sizeable investments in the Algerian energy sector, including a production-sharing contract between Sinopec and Algeria's Sonatrach.
A delegation of Sonatrach executives visited China in May to discuss energy cooperation and sign a gas supply contract with Chinese partners, according to the Algeria Press Service.
BRICS membership has been a key foreign policy goal for Tebboune, with the president saying last year that his country meets "a good part" of the economic criteria for joining the bloc.
Tebboune participated in a BRICS virtual summit at the end of June, when Russian President Vladimir Putin called on leaders of the group to cooperate in the face of "selfish actions" from the West.
The 77-year-old Algerian leader visited Russia last month, reaching an agreement with Putin to deepen their two countries' "strategic partnership".
Algeria, a major gas supplier to energy-hungry Europe, has maintained warm ties with both its European neighbours and Moscow, despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine.