Esper Visits Algeria; First US Sec Def Visit to Algiers Since 2006

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper on Thursday met Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in Algiers to discuss expanding military cooperation between the U.S. and Algeria.

Esper is the first U.S. defense secretary to visit the nation since Donald Rumsfeld visited in 2006.

The two leaders also discussed the security situation in North Africa and the Sahel,  the way forward in Libya and the uncertainties in Mali, as well as the broader threats from violent extremist organizations in the region and beyond.

During the discussions, Esper in particular noted ways to improve U.S. military cooperation with the armed forces of Algeria.

“There are a number of areas where we plan to increase our cooperation, such as in counterterrorism. We look to improve our exercises and training together. We also discussed other issues involving our militaries, which I am confident will increase our interoperability as well,” said Esper.

The nation appears to be willing to play a more assertive role in the region, said a defense official speaking on background.

The Secretary reiterated that the United States will continue working hand-in-hand with Algeria to strengthen military ties and promote regional security and stability.

Esper thanked Tebboune for the longstanding relationship between the two nations and praised Algeria for its leadership in promoting regional stability.

The meeting took place at Tebboune’s residence where Esper thanked the President — who also serves as Defense Minister — for his hospitality.

Algerian officials also said that Lt. Gen. Said Chengriha, the Algerian Military’s Chief of Defense, participated in the discussions with Esper.

Prior to his arrival at the meeting, Esper placed a wreath at the Martyrs Monument. This monument stands as a memorial for the more than 1 million Algerians that fought and lost their lives fighting for their independence from France. They only gained their independence in 1962.

The country is one of the largest in North Africa, with a population of more than 42 million.

This visit is part of a series of planned visits throughout the region, in an effort to strengthen old alliances and build new ones. Esper first visited Malta and Tunisia before arriving in Tunisia.

“I want to say to the Algerian people, how much we respect their sovereignty. We enjoy their cooperation and admire their history,” Esper said.

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper places a wreath at the Martyrs Monument which overlooks the Algerian capital of Algiers.


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