Gandhi in Algeria
Paris: Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi today left for a brief visit to Algeria that was expected to focus on the Nonaligned Movement and the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Following a four day visit to France, Algeria is the third stop of Gandhi’s five nation tour, which also will take him to Switzerland and the United States. After spending the day in Algeria, Gandhi will make a brief stopover in Switzerland before flying to the United States Tuesday.
Algerian officials gave few details of Gandhi’s itinerary, but he was expected to meet with President Chadli Benjedid and Prime Minister Abdelhamid Brahimi. He also is expected to tour the Martyrs Memorial erected in honor of the 1 million Algerians who died in their eight year colonial war against France.
Western diplomats in Algiers said Chadli hoped to use Gandhi’s visit to boost Algeria’s standing in the Nonaligned Movement of less developed countries, and make a bid for its chairmanship, which India will relinquish in 1987.
Diplomats said Benjedid also would raise the thorny issue of the conflict in the Western Sahara, where the Algerian backed Polisario Front has waged a nine-year guerrilla war with Morocco for control of the former Spanish colony.
Sixty-one countries recogran Arab Democratic Republic, which last year gained admission to the Organization of African Unity, but Gandhi, is unlikely to publicly back the rebels, the diplomats said.
The two leaders also will discuss trade between their countries, which now weighs heavily in India’s favor. Benjedid will ask Gandhi to increase purchases of Algerian products and India will try to win lucrative rail, highway and airport construction contracts, the diplomats predicted.
Gandhi ended his four day visit to France Sunday by thanking the French for agreeing to help clean up the Ganges River, regarded as the sacred by Hindus.
Gandhi Arrived in Washington
From Paris via Algeria
Sikhs Stage Impressive Demonstration
Article extracted from this publication >> June 14, 1985