LONDON, Jan 29, 2013 (AFP) – British Prime Minister David Cameron is to visit Algeria on Wednesday in the wake of the hostage crisis that left some 37 foreigners dead including several Britons, his office confirmed on Tuesday.
Cameron is expected to meet with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmalek Sellal as well as President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, a Downing Street spokesman said.
The British premier will visit Algeria at the start of a three-day trip during which he will also co-chair an international development conference in Liberia’s capital Monrovia.
According to preliminary estimates by the Algerian authorities, 37 foreign hostages and 29 kidnappers died this month when gunmen stormed the In Amenas gas plant and the Algerian army launched a military assault in response.
Cameron and other world leaders protested that they were not notified in advance about the army operation at the remote site deep in the Algerian desert.
Three Britons were confirmed killed at the gas plant, which is partly operated by the British energy giant BP, while another three are believed dead.
The hostage-takers had demanded the release of Islamist prisoners and an end to France’s operation against Islamist rebels in neighbouring Mali.
Cameron’s talks with Algerian leaders are likely to touch on the operation in Mali as well as the growing threat from extremists in north Africa.
The British premier has said the region is becoming a “magnet” for jihadists from other countries, and has pledged to use Britain’s chairmanship of the Group of Eight richest nations this year to focus on the threat of terrorism.
“We must frustrate the terrorists with our security, we must beat them militarily, we must address the poisonous narrative they feed on, we must close down the ungoverned space in which they thrive,” he told parliament this month.
On Tuesday, Britain offered to send up to 240 military experts to help train the Malian army and west African troops set to be be deployed there, although it has stressed that it is not sending combat troops.
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