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Britain, Algeria reach security deal

Updated: 2013-02-01 09:55
( China Daily/Agencies)

Britain and Algeria have agreed to a security partnership that could see greater intelligence-sharing and planning for future crises, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday in the North African country.

Cameron's trip to Algeria - where he was accompanied by John Sawers, the head of Britain's international spy agency MI6 - followed the deadly Jan 16 attack on the In Amenas natural gas plant. That attack led to a four-day siege on the complex by Algerian forces. At least 37 hostages and 29 militants died.

At a news conference following talks with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmalek Sellal, Cameron stressed the importance of a "tough and intelligent" response to the growing threat from Islamist militants in the region.

The two countries will exchange information on border and aviation security, countering improvised explosive devices and tackling extremist propaganda.

"When terrorism grows up in different parts of the world, it damages our people and our interests in those parts of the world but also back at home as well," Cameron said.

"The terrorism threat that we face from al-Qaida in parts of Pakistan, in Yemen, in Somalia is clearly more of a threat than the al-Qaida terrorism that is growing in Mali.

"But because it is growing, we shouldn't ignore it, we should work with partners to try to combat it."

Britain was among several countries with citizens held hostage in the In Amenas crisis that were not told in advance of Algeria's plan to storm the gas plant.

A group affiliated with al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attack on In Amenas, and a number of al-Qaida-linked Islamist extremist groups originated in Algeria is active in northern Mali.

French troops are driving Islamist forces from bases in northern Mali, Algeria's southwestern neighbor, but Britain has ruled out getting involved in another campaign like Iraq or Afghanistan.

However, London said on Tuesday it would deploy more than 300 military non-combat personnel to help the French-led military operation.