NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY NAPLES, Italy, –
This past week I had the opportunity to meet with multiple senior Algerian officials during a visit to Algiers. Although there are many ways that leaders can communicate with each other, I believe that face-to-face interactions, such as the ones that we held in the capital, are critical to maintaining and building relationships and continuing an open dialogue. My visit to Algeria was meant to underscore the importance of the Algero-American relationship; one that is of special historical significance dating back to the earliest days of our democracy.
Our countries have enjoyed and celebrated a dynamic relationship for 213 years, beginning with the Treaty of Peace and Amity that was signed September 5, 1795, when Algeria recognized the United States as an independent nation. In 1962, President Kennedy returned the gesture by sending a congratulatory message to the Algerian people when they declared their freedom during a referendum where he assured that we would work in cooperation on behalf of peace and prosperity. A message that holds true to this day. Algeria was also vital during the Iran Hostage Crisis in the 1980s and helped broker negotiations that resulted in the Algiers Declaration thereby resolving the crisis. Furthermore, Algeria was one of the first countries to denounce the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. Our countries have a rich bond and a sustained friendship, and we look forward to finding more ways to develop this relationship.
During my discussions with Algerian Maj. Gen. Mohamed Larbi Haouli, commander, Algerian Naval Forces, he echoed the importance of continuing to expand our security and military partnership as a means to strengthen the ties between our two nations. Going forward, we will work to find more opportunities to train together and increase our interoperability. Our collective efforts demonstrate that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder on matters of mutual security interest.
Our engagement comes on the heels of a meeting in January between Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelkader Messahel who reviewed the close and productive partnership between our countries and discussed areas for future cooperation. Our meeting this week reinforced the U.S. government’s desire to expand security and military partnerships, grow economic and commercial links, and build educational and cultural ties between our two nations.
Also in January, a group of distinguished Algerian academics and university professors visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium as part of the NATO public diplomacy framework and provided invigorating dialogue and thought leadership. This exchange was part of NATO Strategic Direct South - Hub, which connects allies, partners and non-military entities by building networks and relationships with academia and international organizations. By Connecting, Consulting, and Coordinating, the HUB is a forum to address dynamic destabilizing conditions which are conducive to the spread of violent extremism that undermine the rule of law. Announced as fully operational in July last year, the HUB demonstrates NATO’s continued commitment to this region.
Before the Hub become a reality this past year, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and partner countries launched the Mediterranean Dialogue “to create good relations and better mutual understanding and confidence throughout the region, promoting security and stability.” This initiative happened 25 five years ago, and since then, Algeria and NATO together have made tremendous achievements, and we look forward to the next 25 years of dialogue and cooperation, both through the Mediterranean Dialogue and Hub. My visit to Algeria is an extension of these discussions and shows that our collaboration runs deep.
And just as I left Algiers on Thursday, a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) conducted an exercise with the Adhafer-class corvette ANS El Faith (921). This was the second U.S. Navy port visit to Algiers and bilateral maritime exercise in less than two years. The exercise, at the tail end of Donald Cook’s port visit to Algiers highlights the strategic significance the maritime domain is to both our countries, North Africa and our Mediterranean allies and partners.
Algeria is an important North African partner; strategically located and highly capable. We have strong diplomatic, law enforcement, economic, and security ties. Because of our shared security interests in the Maghreb and Southern Mediterranean, we routinely work together to preserve regional stability and counter terrorism. The leaders with whom I interacted promote the partnership between our two great nations and support moving forward in a positive direction.
After this visit, I am certain our connection has been reinforced and I anticipate many more years of joint efforts to maintain regional peace and stability. We are grateful for the opportunity to visit Algeria and have been enriched by the experience.