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Macron says time to move on from Algeria's colonial past

From Reuters - December 6, 2017

ALGIERS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron visited Algeria on Wednesday where he pressed for a new chapter in relations and said he would not be held hostage by Frances colonial past, in remarks published by a local newspaper.

The French leader is in the capital Algiers for talks with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and senior officials as he looks to bolster social and trade ties between the countries.

It is a relationship scarred by the trauma of the 1954-1962 independence war, during which hundreds of thousands of Algerians were killed and torture was used on both sides.

Bouteflika, 80, belongs to the war veterans who fought against French occupation and has been in ill-health since suffering a stroke in 2013. Macron is widely seen as his last chance of obtaining an official apology for the past.

But the French leader is unlikely to go any further than his predecessor, Francois Hollande, who sought a more conciliatory tone and described his countrys colonization of Algeria as brutal and unfair, but stopped short of apologizing.

I know the history, but I am not a hostage of the past. We have a shared memory and we need to accept that, but I want, out of respect for our history, to turn to the future, Macron told El Watan newspaper.

Bouteflika is rarely seen in public since his stroke and Macron will focus on Algerias generational shift and the importance of enhanced economic and security within that context.

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Economic ties between the two countries have marginally progressed since 2012 and France is now behind China as the main partner. Annual trade stands at about 8 billion euros compared with 6.36 billion five years ago.

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