CAIRO Ñ The United States has asked Algeria for military basing
Algerian government sources said the Algerian Defense Ministry and the
U.S. Defense Department are discussing basing rights for U.S. aircraft and
troops in Algeria. The sources said the discussions do not include the
prospect of a permanent U.S. military presence in the North African state.
On Sunday, the Algerian Le Quotidien d'Oran daily reported that the
United States wants to employ Algerian military bases for counter-insurgency
missions and the protection of oil interests in North Africa. The daily said
the United States, which will not operate the bases, has agreed to use the
facilities only in case of emergency, Middle East Newsline reported.
The sources said Algeria is one of several countries approached by the
United States for basing rights. They said the United States has also
discussed the issue with Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
Assuming the unassumable
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Algeria and the United States have increased defense and security
relations over the last two years. Washington has approved the sale of
non-lethal military equipment to Algiers and the two countries have
conducted naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, largely within the
framework of NATO.
The two countries have also expanded their intelligence exchange in the
U.S.-led war against Al Qaida. Algeria is said to have provided information
on Al Qaida operatives in North Africa and offered to extradite suspects.