Visiting Turkey leader: Algeria key in region’s stability

Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, right, and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greet each other during a welcoming ceremony at the airport, in Algiers, Algeria, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Erdogan is in Algeria as first step of his three-nation Africa tour.(Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, greeted to a fanfare arrival Sunday in Algiers, said the North African nation is “important for the stability of the region,” an apparent bow to Algerian efforts to play a key role in unwinding chaos in neighboring Libya.

Erdogan was greeted by the Algerian chief of state and full government at the airport to start a two-day visit centered on Libya and on boosting their own economic cooperation.

Erdogan is the first foreign head of state on an official visit here since the Dec. 12 election of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and portraits of the Turkish leader lined the way between the airport and the presidential mansion.

After an initial private meeting, Erdogan castigated the role of the international community in Libya, which shares a nearly 1,000-kilometer (more than 600-mile) border with Algeria, saying it “has failed in Syria and Libya.”

“The international community has failed in Libya,” Erdogan said in brief remarks, and “Algeria is an important country in the stability of the region.”

He invited Tebboune to visit Turkey.

Algeria has begun playing a stepped-up role in trying to turn chaos into peace in Libya, where two rival governments are fighting for control, helped by foreign countries. Turkey notably has taken the side of the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli, which is under siege from eastern rival Gen. Khalifa Hifter. World powers are pushing both sides to respect a tentative truce.

Algeria convened a meeting last Thursday of foreign ministers of countries neighboring Libya plus Mali.

Hifter is backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, while the embattled U.N.-backed government is aided by Qatar, along with Turkey. The proxy conflict has been in the making since long-time Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

Erdogan is expected to travel to Gambia and Senegal after his stay in Algiers.

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