French president refuses to apologize for colonial past in Algeria
Algiers -- French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday refused to apologize for his country's colonial past in Algeria, on his first visit to the North African country.
"I didn't come here to offer repentance or excuses," he told reporters in the capital Algiers after talks with his counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika. "This visit is about the future."
Relations between the two countries have been strained since the bloody 1954-62 Algerian War of Independence. Many Algerians still want an apology from their former colonial masters for crimes committed during their rule.
Hollande's two-day trip had been tensely awaited, with the question of a possible apology preoccupying media during the build up.
The French president instead urged a "strategic, equal partnership."
He is due to adress the parliament in Algiers on Thursday.
Almost a dozen ministers as well as business representatives and artists accompanied him on the trip. Representatives of the French carmaker Renault are expected to ink a deal to build an assembly plant during the visit.
The politicians talks focused on Mali, where Islamist rebels have gained control of the north. A planned international military intervention has been criticized in Algeria, which fears that the rebels could flee across its borders.
But on Wednesday Hollande said that he and Bouteflika were "of the same view" regarding Mali, adding that Algeria was playing a "very important" role in fighting terrorism.
Distributed by MCT Information Services