The scheduled state visit of Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune to France, initially postponed twice in 2023 and rescheduled for early 2024, is still in the preparatory phase, according to Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf on December 27. Algeria asserts that the conditions for this visit are yet to be fulfilled, contingent upon the resolution of five major issues still under discussion.
The anticipated visit was meant to mark an improvement in relations between the two countries after numerous diplomatic crises. However, the necessary conditions remain unmet, and Algiers is now making it explicitly clear through Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf.
In an interview with the podcast platform Atheer, owned by the Qatari network Al-Jazeera, Attaf stated, “We have not reached agreements on five major and weighty issues.” He emphasized that while the work continues, discussions between officials of both countries persist.
Among the outstanding issues is the matter of French nuclear tests in the Algerian Sahara. France conducted 17 nuclear tests between 1960 and 1966 at the Reggane site and later at In Ekker. Declassified documents in 2013 mentioned significant radioactive effects extending from West Africa to southern Europe. Algeria is seeking recognition of the damages it incurred due to these tests and compensation.
Additionally, Algeria claims that France continues to reject the return of the sword and burnous (traditional cloak) of Emir Abdelkader, citing the need for a law, as stated by the Algerian diplomat. President Tebboune was supposed to visit the Château d’Ambroise, where Abdelkader was imprisoned, as part of the visit agenda. The other two unresolved issues involve mobility and visa matters between the two nations and economic cooperation.
In May, when his Paris visit was initially postponed, President Tebboune asserted that the visit would proceed but emphasized that a “state visit has conditions” and is “not a tourist visit.”