Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

In Algeria, Hollande Acknowledges 'Unjust and Brutal' Past

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

In Algeria, Hollande Acknowledges 'Unjust and Brutal' Past

Article excerpt

President Francois Hollande has recognized the "profoundly unjust and brutal" nature of France's colonial rule, a statement seen in both countries as heralding a change of tone.

On a delicate and closely watched visit to Algeria, President Francois Hollande of France has acknowledged the "profoundly unjust and brutal" nature of France's colonial rule, a statement seen in both countries as heralding a change of tone. But Mr. Hollande did not make an apology for France's conduct, although Algeria has long pressed for one.

"I recognize here the suffering that colonialism inflicted on the Algerian people," Mr. Hollande said in a speech before Parliament in Algiers on Thursday. His visit to Algeria, his first as president, came shortly after the 50th anniversary of Algerian independence from France.

The visit to Algeria was aimed at reviving economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries, French officials said; France remains Algeria's primary trading partner. It also was intended to discuss with the Algerians what kind of intervention might take place in northern Mali, a neighboring area where Islamic radicals have seized control.

Mr. Hollande arrived in Algiers on Wednesday with a delegation of about 200 people, including nine government ministers and executives from 40 French companies. On Wednesday, he announced a deal for the French carmaker Renault to build an assembly plant near Oran and signed a joint statement with the Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, calling for revived economic, strategic and cultural relations. Algeria relies upon its rich reserves of oil and natural gas for about one-third of its economy, but the country is eager to diversify.

Mr. Hollande also hopes to ensure quiet Algerian support for a multinational African military intervention in northern Mali. …

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