By Walid Ramzi
By Walid Ramzi
Algiers, October 22, 2011
The Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) put off its visit to Algeria, originally scheduled for Thursday (October 20th).
The death of Moamer Kadhafi “forced NTC members who were supposed to visit Algiers today to stay in Libya”, NTC member Mohamed Ali Abdellah told Tout sur l’Algerie.
A day before, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci said that the relations between Libya and Algeria were heading in the “right direction”.
“We had informal relations with the Libyan National Transition Council, which have now become formal,” he said during a joint press meeting with his British counterpart, William Hague. Medelci stressed that the Algerian authorities and the NTC leaders communicated on a “regular” basis.
NTC chief Mustapha Abdel Jalil on Tuesday received Algeria’s ambassador to Tripoli. The meeting was “very constructive” and reaffirmed “the importance of Abdel Jalil in building a strong and ambitious multilateral co-operation”, according to Medelci.
During his Tuesday meeting with Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Portas, Algeria’s chief diplomat said that his country would soon welcome a delegation of Libyan diplomats and security officials. The visit would be “the starting point for the development, together with the new Libyan authorities, of a new basis for co-operation”, Medelci said, adding that Algeria and Libya were determined to work together to build the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).
The countries have agreed to develop an action plan to help Libya overcome the transition phase, according to Medelci. Libya’s potential is not confined to oil but includes human potential and the intellectual acumen that should be used in the development of the country, the Algerian diplomat added.
The officials had planned to discuss the state of bilateral relations as well as border security. In early September, Algeria announced the temporary closure of all border crossings with Libya due to “the arms flow and the massive exodus of people from this country”, the foreign minister said.
Algeria has repeatedly voiced concerns over the repercussions of the situation in Libya on its security and the Sahel-Saharan region. A report released by the Algerian authorities in September pointed out that the amount of weapons captured on the joint border with Libya in the past eight months matched the amount of arms seized in the Algerian desert in twenty years.
Last month, Algeria hosted a global Sahel security conference, which focused on the circulation of arms originating from Libya. The summit brought together foreign ministers of Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger as well as a number of international officials and world body representatives.
“The Libyan crisis has transformed the Sahel into a powder keg,” said Nigerien Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazou at the conference. “Weapons of all calibres are in circulation.” Co-operation between Algeria and Libya is “important for security and stability in the region”, Hague said during his Wednesday visit. He pledged to “continue to support Algeria in its fight against Al-Qaeda and to encourage a regional approach to this common threat”.
The British diplomat, however, also urged Algeria to “work with the Libyan authorities on any requests they will make about people who have come into the country” in reference to the members of Kadhafi family who took refuge in Algeria in late August.
“I’ve also made the request in all countries I’ve visited in the region that in relation to people that are fugitives from international justice that if they come onto the territory of the countries concerned, then of course it is important to work with the Libyan authorities and international authorities to ensure that indictees of the International Criminal Court are brought to justice,” Hague said.