Friday, 8 October 2010
British visits to Algeria
There were three significant British visits to Algeria this week. These were by Simon Fraser, Susan Haird and Lady Olga Maitland.
Simon Fraser is head of the British Diplomatic service and the senior foreign policy adviser to the Foreign Secretary. He is responsible for the management of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London, and British Embassies and High Commissions around the world. Susan Haird is Deputy Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). Olga Maitland is president of the Algerian-British Business Council and founder (1983) of The Defence and Security Forum.
The most significant of these visits was that of Simon Fraser. In his meeting with Algerian Deputy Minister for Maghreb and African Affairs Abdelkader Messahel and interviews with El Watan and El Khabar he reiterated Britain's position of refusing to pay hostage ransoms or negotiate with terrorists. This is taken in Algiers as a further demonstration by the UK of its support for the Algerian regime and, in the climate of the current hostage crisis in the Sahel, as a 'snub' to France. Fraser also confirmed the UK's willingness to provide Algeria with certain unspecified 'security equipment'.
Haird and Maitland's visits were oriented primarily to furthering British economic interests in Algeria, although both significantly gave positive confirmation of the UK's support for the Algerian regime and its stance on security issues. In an interview with Liberté, Maitland, well-known for her outspoken support for the Algeria regime, confirmed her view, made in the wake of the 11th April 2007 Algiers bombings, that it was safer to wander around the Algiers Casbah than to drive around London.
For more news and expert analysis about Algeria please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.
© 2010 Menas Associates