Algeria 'contacting' Libyan rebel's council: paper

10:27, June 27, 2011      

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An Algerian minister has said the North African nation has been in contacts with Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC) without saying what the kind of the contacts they have with rebels, Algerian el-Khabar newspaper reported on Sunday.

"We know them and they know us well," the paper quoted Abdelaziz Belkhadem, a cabinet minister and head of Algeria's ruling FLN party, as saying.

"Most members of the council were former officials of Col. Muammar Gaddafi's regime, so they are not strangers to us," he said.

Belkhadem made his comments when he was asked what reports claiming there were secret contacts between Algeria and the NTC.

He said Algeria is very concerned "directly" about the war in Libya, saying the security in Libya is part and parcel of his country's security.

Algeria has not recognized the Libyan rebels, who had accused it of helping to support the Libyan government including sending mercenaries to fight with Gaddafi's forces.

Algerian authorities have strongly denied such charges and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, whose country is leading Western power in backing the rebels, dismissed those accusations as "unfounded."

Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci has said that Algeria supports an immediate cease-fire proposal spearheaded by the African Union.

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