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Algeria’s president starting state visit to Russia at invitation of Putin

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday is starting a three-day state visit to Russia meant to strengthen relations of “friendship and cooperation” at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, authorities said Tuesday.

The Algerian presidency said in a statement that Tebboune will attend an economic forum to be held this week in the city of St. Petersburg.

Putin’s invitation had been conveyed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his visit to Algiers in May last year with the aim of developing bilateral military, economic and humanitarian ties, and in other areas.

Some Algerian media have criticized the visit amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“The timing is not at all appropriate, as this visit by the president could be understood as a bias in favor of Russia in its conflict with Ukraine, whereas officially, it has a position of neutrality,” the Maghreb Emergent website wrote on Monday, raising concerns about a potential “backlash” from Western countries.

Tebboune answered a question on the issue during his last appearance on public television last month.

“Russia is a friendly country which helped our revolution and with which we have historic political, diplomatic and economic relations, but we also have good relations with the United States and the countries of the European Union,” he said.

Gas-rich Algeria is in a delicate position regarding its long-standing ties to Russia.

With drastically less capacity, Algeria is increasingly eyed by European countries looking to reduce their reliance on Russian energy amid the war in Ukraine. The North African nation has replaced Russia as Italy’s No. 1 energy supplier.

Russia has long supplied Algeria with military equipment.

The Associated Press

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