Algeria recalls ambassador to France amid mounting diplomatic tensions

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Algeria recalled its ambassador from France for consultations, the presidency said on Saturday, amid mounting diplomatic tensions with Paris.

"Algeria recalls its ambassador from Paris for consultations and a statement will be issued regarding this," said Algeria's state broadcaster, quoting a statement released by the presidency.

It said a longer statement would follow to explain the decision.

The move came after French President Emmanuel Macron made critical remarks about Algeria, published in French daily Le Monde, in which he said the former French colony was ruled by a "political-military system".

Le Monde on Saturday quoted Macron as saying Algeria has an "official history" which has been "totally re-written".

He said this history was "not based on truths" but "on a discourse of hatred towards France", according to Le Monde.

"Was there an Algeria nation before French colonisation," Macron reportedly asked.

Macron also spoke out on current Algerian politics. His counterpart Abdelmajid Tebboune was "trapped in a system which is very tough", the French president was quoted as saying.

"You can see that the Algerian system is tired, it has been weakened by the Hirak," he added, referring to the pro-democracy movement which forced Tebboune's predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, from power in 2019 after two decades at the helm.

The remarks, widely picked up by Algerian media, came in a meeting earlier this week between Macron and relatives of figures from Algeria's war of independence.

It is the second time that Algeria has recalled an ambassador from France.

Algiers also recalled its ambassador in May 2020 after French media broadcast a documentary about the Hirak.

Tensions mount over visa issue

Saturday's move came amid tensions over a French decision to sharply reduce the number of visas it grants to citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

France last week said it would sharply reduce the number of visas granted to people from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, accusing the former French colonies of not doing enough to allow illegal immigrants to return.

Algeria's foreign ministry described the move as a "unilateral decision of the French government".

French ambassador François Gouyette on Wednesday was handed "a formal protest" from Algiers which called the visa reduction an "unfortunate act" that caused "confusion and ambiguity as to its motivation and its scope".

Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita has described the French move as "unjustified".

Tunisian President Kais Saied expressed disappointment with the decision in a telephone call with Macron Saturday, his office said, adding that the French leader had said it could be revised.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday that the visa reduction decision was "unprecedented".

Paris made that choice, he said, because Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia "are refusing to take back nationals who we do not want or cannot keep in France".

The radio said Macron took the decision a month ago after failed diplomatic efforts with the three North African countries.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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