Algeria president to attend Africa-France summit

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will attend the Africa summit in the French Riviera city of Nice from Monday, in a move that could mark a thaw in relations between Paris and Algiers.

Bouteflika's participation in the 25th Africa summit "will contribute to an improvement in relations with France and consolidate the links between African countries and France," Algeria's foreign minister Mourad Medelci told AFP.

No direct meeting between Bouteflika and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been planned "at this stage," the French government said, but added the two leaders "would see each other and speak to each other."

Top officials from the two countries have not met for months, and a number of incidents have raised tensions between France and its former North African colony.

These include the French probes into the assassination of Algerian opposition figure Ali Mecili at his home in Paris in 1987, and the murder of seven French monks in Algeria in 1996.

Also, Algeria strongly criticised Paris after it was included on a terror watchlist as part of new aviation security measures in January, and Algerian deputies presented a law bill in April to "criminalise" colonialism.

© 2010 AFP

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