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Brussels, 8 December 2011

Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following his meeting with Abdelkader Messahel, Deputy Foreign Minister of Algeria

I have met today Mr Abdelkader Messahel, Deputy Foreign Minister of Algeria, in charge of Maghreb and African issues, in order to exchange views on the regional issues in the Maghreb and Sahel, and to review bilateral relations with Algeria. We agreed that Algeria and the European Union have a mutual interest in the intensification of our cooperation in order to face the new challenges of instability, poverty and arms proliferation in the Sahel region. We also underlined the importance of intensifying and deepening regional integration, both for the Maghreb and for the Sahel and welcomed recent announcements concerning the revitalising of the Arab Maghreb Union. I should like to confirm that the European Union fully supports these important advances.

Concerning recent developments in Algeria, Minister Messahel described the significant reforms that Algeria has undertaken since the beginning of the year aimed at consolidating democracy in Algeria.

Turning to bilateral relations between the European Union and Algeria, Minister Messahel announced Algeria's willingness to start exploratory negotiations for the elaboration of an Action Plan in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

I welcome these important decisions which demonstrate the authorities’ willingness to take forward a process of ambitious reform. I trust that they will pursue this goal with determination and that the reforms will be put in place rapidly. The European Union is determination to support Algeria in this task and to work together with our Algerian partners to deepen the links between us. I offered my strong personal support and continued engagement in this process.

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