Fatour Essabah Guest:
The US Ambassador to Algeria HEM Robert Ford
El Khabar, 2 July 2007
*2 conditions for Algerian detainees’ in Guantanamo rendition
Guantanamo detention camp is to be closed “sooner or later”; the US ambassador to Algeria HEM Robert Ford pointed out. He stated that the Algerian detainee in Guantanamo rendition is conditioned by the Algerian government’s commitment not to ill-treat them as well as the released not to go back to fighting.
*AFRICOM driving motive is not terrorism
On the controversial US commandment in Africa AFRICOM the ambassador reiterated that the project doesn’t enshrine a US desire to establish a military base in whatever African country in the classical meaning of the word. It is rather, he said “aiming at unifying US military and civil actions meant to back up friend countries facing up crisis, however, the solution to that crisis is to be found by African countries themselves not form the USA”. He underscored that terrorism is not the main driving motive for AFRICOM.
*Algeria investment milieu doesn’t encourage US companies
HEM Ford observed with regret the US absence in Algeria International Fair, noting that investment and business milieus in Algeria still is an impediment to many US companies especially SMEs. He stressed that the most regrettable thing is the US Company’s lukewarm presence in Algeria owing to “banking system deficiencies, bureaucracy, legal system dithering and the opacity of solutions”.
*A US initiative for banking system leveling
In this context, the US Ambassador to Algeria revealed a US initiative for Algerian banking system reform. He indicated that financial and banking experts have already visited Algeria in order to find practical solutions to activate Algerian banks role, as he said “we have a special accompanying and technical assistance programme for Algeria banking sector”.
*Oil law amendment repercussions
Regarding oil law amendment repercussions, Ambassador Ford agreed tacitly with US oil companies stand, noting that the a clear-cat legal framework likely to give foreign partners a project vision for possible changes has to be set up, he, however, underscored that each state has the right to amend its legislations.
*Striving to end “Open Sky” negotiations within a few months
HEM Robert Ford recognized the delay recorded in the conclusion, between the two countries, of the air agreement said –the Open Sky-, saying “despite the delay, I am optimistic, as it is to allow the adoption of a free trade agreement in air transport field. I have already had a meeting with transport minister in which we discussed the details of the issue and we wish negotiations to be renewed within next months”.
*More than $5bn of US investments in Algeria
The US Ambassador said the US investments in Algeria are estimated at $5bn, mostly in oil sector. He further mentioned that the most important US project outside hydrocarbon sector is the $120m water desalination station undertaken by Ionix group as well as Sonelgaz and Sonatrach joint venture.
* Press offence non-criminalization is positive for freedom of press
In terms of freedom of press, Robert Ford mentioned that it is a fundamental issue. He insisted on the need to go in the in-depth of the information and make sure it is reliable. Moreover, he added that authorities have to provide a larger space for freedom of expression. In his opinion, the non-criminalization of press offences is itself a good factor.
*USA supports Algeria accession to the WTO
About Algeria accession to the World Trade Organization WTO, the US Ambassador said it is up to the Algerian authorities to adequate the legal framework with regulations in force in the WTO member states.
On the international side, Ambassador Ford made clear that the “USA encourages the conflicting parties to enter in direct negotiations without any precondition”. Regarding the French President Nicolas Sarkozy Euro-Mediterranean Union proposal, El Khabar guest said that he has not the details of the French project, but insisted on the fact that he doesn’t see it as an alternative for an excellent relation between Algeria and the USA.