‘Algeria PM on India’s side in J&K issue’

Vice President M. Hamid Ansari (right) with the Prime Minister of Algeria, Abdelmalek Sellal during a meeting in Algiers, Algeria on Wednesday. Photo: PTI  

Hungary and Algeria have both unequivocally added their voices to the international outcry against terrorism in the current Indian context, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said on Thursday at the conclusion of five-day-long visit to the two countries. In terms of outcomes of delegation-level talks and takeaways, it was ''an extremely satisfactory set of visits,'' he added.

Separately, a senior source who is familiar with the content of the talks held in Algiers on Wednesday said on condition of anonymity that the Algerian Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, actually told the Indian side that his country totally supported India's position on the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

The Vice-President, however, refused to be drawn into the details of the talks, although the stress he put during the course of the media briefing on the discussion outcomes on terrorism in both capitals indicated that the takeaways were to India's full satisfaction. He did say that "our views [on different issues] were duly reciprocated by the Algerians".

In answer to a question, from The Hindu, whether there was mention during the discussions of any third country in the context of the consensus on the issue of terrorism, Mr. Ansari said "Everyone knows which one is the third country. [The] obvious is obvious. No need to take any country's name."

Earlier in Budapest, at a joint media conference, Mr Ansari had mentioned Hungary's alignment with India on the issue.

In Algiers, while receiving and seeing him off, the Algerian gestures went beyond the requirements of protocol, as the Vice-President himself noted. "The signal was clear. They accorded special importance to this visit," Mr Ansari added. This spirit was adequately reflected in the talks as well, he added. Significantly, Mr Ansari's talks with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika , who is constrained by an ailment, lasted an hour and ten minutes, as the Vice-President noted. This meeting was the final item on the agenda on the concluding day of the visit, following talks earlier in the day that the Vice-President had with the Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra.

Mr Ansari extended an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a visit to India by the Algerian leadership, which was readily accepted. Consequently, Prime Minister Sellal will visit India soon, and a return visit by a ranking political leader from India to Algiers could be on the cards too, the Vice-President said.

After mentioning the progress both sides just made on a joint venture phosphate plant, Mr Ansari said that new, specific areas of cooperation between the two countries were discussed, including in the realms of defence and security, peaceful uses of atomic energy and space. "There was endorsement from the Algerian side for each one of our proposals," he said.

Mentioning that it was as if India and Algeria were standing back to back so far and looking at the world so far, the Vice-President said the two nations were about to "reconnect" and "pump new life" into the bilateral relationship.

An improved equation with the African continent's largest nation, one with an overwhelmingly Muslim population, could be a positive development diplomatically and otherwise for India, which in recent times has been working to improve its ties with the countries of the African Union. Indeed, Mr Ansari noted that closer relations with Algeria would be useful to India in developing better links with countries of the whole region.

The recurring theme and watchword during the visit to Hungary having been democracy, whether Algeria's record on this front fell short of expectations as has been widely seen, was a question the Vice-President tactfully refused to be drawn into. "Every country's democratic experience differs," he said in answer to a question. Algerian President Bouteflika, who took office in 1999, had the constitutional provision that limited his term to two amended, and paved the way for a lifelong Presidency. He has also refused to appoint a Vice-President, despite his having suffered a stroke.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 8:41:52 PM |

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