France, Algeria pledge to relaunch relations after rift

French President Emmanuel Macron on his first official visit to Algeria on December 6, 2017. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 June 2020

France, Algeria pledge to relaunch relations after rift

  • Macron spoke by phone Tuesday with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune
  • They spoke “in a spirit of friendship” and “mutual respect for the others’ sovereignty”

ALGIERS: The French and Algerian presidents have pledged to “relaunch” relations after a week-long diplomatic rift that led to the recall of the Algerian ambassador to Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone Tuesday with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune, discussing the coronavirus crisis and conflicts in Libya and the Sahel, said the Elysee Palace.
They spoke “in a spirit of friendship” and “mutual respect for the others’ sovereignty” and “affirmed their willingness to work together for the stability and security of the region,” it said.
“They also agreed to work toward a peaceful relationship and an ambitious relaunch of bilateral cooperation in all areas.”
Algeria said both sides agreed to “give a positive boost” to relations “on a sustainable foundation capable of guaranteeing mutual common interest and full respect for the distinctiveness and sovereignty of each of the two countries.”
The phone talk appeared to put an end to a diplomatic crisis triggered by the broadcast on French television of documentaries on the “Hirak” anti-government protest movement in Algeria.
Algiers had recalled its ambassador in Paris, Salah Lebdioui, for consultations, denouncing one of the films for “attacks on the Algerian people and its institutions,” including the army.
Earlier in the year, Tebboune had called for “mutual respect” in Franco-Algerian relations, saying his country “will not accept any interference or tutelage” from abroad.
The leaders agreed to coordinate on working to restore security and stability in the region in regards to Libya and the Sahel region, the Algerian statement added.
Algeria’s neighbor Libya has been mired in conflict since the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with two rival administrations and multiple militias currently struggling for power.
France and five Sahel nations — including three of Algeria’s immediate neighbors — pledged earlier this year to bolster efforts against jihadists waging an increasingly deadly insurgency.


I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

Updated 41 min 28 sec ago

I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

  • University president and UN human rights chief join condemnation of ‘incompetent’ government

BEIRUT: Beleaguered Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday defied a barrage of criticism to declare that his government alone ruled Lebanon and it was determined to implement reforms to resolve the financial crisis.

Diab dismissed as “fake news” reports that he was on the verge of resignation, and said: “Lebanon will not be under anyone’s control as long as I am in power.”

The prime minister spoke after UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that Lebanon was enduring “the worst economic crisis in its history” and was “fast spiraling out of control.” 

She urged Diab’s government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to “the people’s essential needs, such as food, electricity, health, and education.”

Diab also faced harsh criticism from the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he was vice president and a professor before becoming prime minister.

BACKGROUND

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet urged the Lebanese government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to ‘the people’s essential needs, such as food, health and education.’

AUB president Fadlo Khuri said Diab’s government was the worst in Lebanon’s history in its understanding of higher education.

“I have not seen any shred of competence in this government since its formation six months ago,” said.

“The government owes the AUB $150 million in medical bills,” Khuri said, and he urged Diab to “at least discuss with us a payment timeline.”

Lebanon’s financial plight is illustrated by its currency, the lira, which has lost 80 percent of its value. 

The black market  dollar exchange rate on Saturday was 7,500, compared with the official rate of 1,507.

Bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund were suspended in a dispute over government debt, but Diab insisted on Saturday: “We have turned the page … and started discussing the basic reforms required and the program that the IMF and Lebanon will agree upon, which will restore confidence and open the door to many projects.”