UK, Algeria agree to security partnership

AP News
Posted: Jan 30, 2013 4:22 PM
UK, Algeria agree to security partnership

LONDON (AP) — Britain and Algeria have agreed to a security partnership that could see greater intelligence-sharing and planning for future crises, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday on a visit to the North African country.

Cameron's trip to Algeria — where he was accompanied by Sir John Sawers, the head of Britain's international spy agency MI6 — followed the deadly Jan. 16 attack on the Ain Amenas natural gas plant. That attack led to a four-day siege on the complex by Algerian forces. At least 37 hostages and 29 militants died.

At a press conference following talks with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmalek Sellal, Cameron stressed the importance of a "tough and intelligent" response to the growing threat from militants in the region.

"Both Britain and Algeria are countries that have suffered from terrorism and we understand each other's suffering," he said. "What we have agreed is a strengthened partnership that looks at how we combat terrorism and how we improve security of this region.

"This should be about sharing our perspectives, about the risks and dangers that there are, but also sharing expertise."

Under the security partnership, Britain and Algeria could increase cooperation on border and aviation security — along with joining forces to prevent the spread of extremist ideology.

Britain also has invited Algeria to take part in a joint contingency planning exercise to share experiences in crisis response.

Cameron earlier said his visit was about helping Algeria "help itself" amid a growing threat from al-Qaida-linked groups in the region, according to Britain's Press Association.

Prior to his talks with Sellal, Cameron laid a wreath at the Martyrs Monument, a memorial overlooking the Bay of Algiers that was built to mark Algeria's war for independence from France between 1954 and 1962.

He also met with staff at the British Embassy in Algiers to thank them for their work during the hostage crisis, which claimed the lives of six Britons.

Cameron's visit was the first from a serving British prime minister since Algeria gained independence in 1962.