Algerian minister kicks up Sarkozy, Jewish storm
29 November 2007, ALGIERS - Six days before President Nicolas Sarkozy visits Algiers, the Algerian veterans' minister has kicked up a storm with remarks about France's "Jewish lobby" being behind his election.
29 November 2007
ALGIERS - Six days before President Nicolas Sarkozy visits Algiers, the Algerian veterans' minister has kicked up a storm with remarks about France's "Jewish lobby" being behind his election.
The Algerian minister, Mohamed Cherif Abbas, was quoted in the Al Khabar daily on Monday as attributing Sarkozy's rise to power to a powerful "Jewish lobby" that he said held sway over French politics.
He also linked this to Sarkozy's roots -- the president's maternal grandfather was Jewish.
French foreign ministry spokesman Pascale Andreani hit back on Wednesday, expressing her astonishment at the minister's comments.
"We are surprised about these remarks that appeared in the press, which do not correspond to the climate of confidence and cooperation in which we are preparing the president's state visit," she said.
Andreani tried to stress the positives ahead of Sarkozy's December 3-5 visit, saying that relations "had never been so close."
Abbas, himself a veteran of Algeria's 1954-1962 war of independence against France, did not deny making the comments but said Wednesday it had never been his intention to attack the image of a foreign head of state.
In the original interview Abbas was also outspoken on the issue of France recognising the crimes it allegedly committed under its 1830-1962 colonisation of Algeria.
"While France fails to recognise the crimes committed in Algeria, we can envisage neither reconciliation nor normalisation," he said.
Sarkozy has antagonised some in Algeria by saying France should no longer "repent" for its colonial past.
And relations between France and Algeria remain brittle after a friendship treaty was scrapped over the French refusal to meet Algerian demands for an apology for the "crimes" of colonisation.
Subject: French news