The US Secretary of Defense continues his three-day visit to North Africa, which is also his first trip to the African continent. After Tunisia yesterday, Mark Esper made a stopover in Algiers on October 1, before heading for Morocco tomorrow. No Pentagon leader has visited Algeria since Donald Rumsfeld in 2006. The goal is to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on security issues.
Upon his arrival in Algiers, Mark Esper went to the memorial to the martyrs who died for Algeria’s independence, where he laid a wreath. He was received by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who also serves as defense minister and commander of the armed forces. Discussions and lunch were on the agenda, with the participation of other officials, including Chief of Staff General Saïd Chanegriha.
Mark Esper stressed the friendship that has bound the United States and Algeria for years, saying he hoped this visit “will help strengthen this cooperation”. For Washington, Algiers is an important partner in terms of security and the fight against jihadist groups in the region. Algeria, for its part, will regain its role on the diplomatic scene and closely monitor the situation in border countries such as Libya and Mali.
According to a US defense official, quoted by Agence France-Presse, the United States would also be interested in a new provision in the draft revision of the Algerian constitution. It allows for the deployment of armed forces abroad within the framework of the UN, the African Union and the Arab League.
► To read: Pentagon chief Mark Esper on tour in Maghreb