President Barack Obama is commending the government of Algeria for lifting a restrictive state of emergency that's been in effect for 19 years in the North African nation.
Obama said in a statement Thursday that the decision _ long sought by opposition parties _ is a positive sign that the Algerian government is listening and responding to public concerns. It came as governments around the Arab world face protests and strikes in the wake of the uprisings in Egypt and Algeria's neighbor Tunisia.
Obama said the U.S. looks forward to additional steps by the Algerian government to enable the populace to exercise rights of expression, association and assembly. And he said the U.S. was committed to continuing cooperation with the Algerian government, which is an ally in fighting al-Qaida.