French PM leads delegation to gas-rich Algeria
Algeria accepts a French delegation to sign agreements on economic cooperation, including energy, but natural gas deliveries are allegedly "not on the table."
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne came to Algeria on Sunday with a high-level team to discuss cooperation with the former French colony and key gas exporter.
Her two-day journey with 16 ministers – more than a third of her cabinet – comes just six weeks after President Emmanuel Macron wrapped up a three-day visit to end months of tensions with Algiers.
Borne is set to sign agreements on economic cooperation, including energy, however natural gas deliveries to France are "not on the table," according to her office.
She was scheduled to lay a wreath Sunday at a monument honoring Algerian independence martyrs and to visit a cemetery for French people who resided in Algeria during France's 132-year occupation, which ended in 1962.
Ties between Algeria and its former colonial master had been strained for months after Macron questioned Algeria's existence as a nation prior to French colonization, accusing the government of fomenting "hatred toward France."
During his August visit, though, Macron and his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune agreed to end the feud. According to Tebboune's office, the two spoke on the phone on Sunday and expressed their "content with the positive direction" of their ties.
Borne will also meet with Tebboune and is expected to sign a number of agreements with Prime Minister Benabderrahmane.
She told the news website Tout Sur l'Algerie (TSA) that the visit will be focused on "education, culture, the ecological transition, and the economy." "More cooperation will be a source of growth for our two countries," Borne said.
Gas supplies to Europe
During his visit, Macron announced the formation of a joint panel of historians to investigate the colonial period, including the war. According to France, the panel is still being formed. Macron has ruled out a state apology for acts committed during the colonial period.
Borne and her colleagues are the latest in a long line of top European officials to visit Algeria, Africa's biggest natural gas supplier, in search of alternatives to Russian energy supplies since the conflict in Ukraine began.
Algeria's Sonatrach signed a $4 billion oil and gas production agreement in July with Italian, French, and US giants.
Borne stated in her interview for TSA that France does not rely substantially on natural gas. But she claimed that Paris wants to develop joint projects in the sector with Algeria "to increase the efficiency of its gas production capacity, which will increase its export capacity to Europe."
Kadri Simson, the European Union's energy commissioner, is also scheduled to visit Algiers on Monday and Tuesday.