Egypt-Algeria tension subsides with joint business projects

An Algerian delegation is participating in a conference devoted to small businesses in Mediterranean countries currently being held in Cairo under the auspices of French Foreign Trade Minister Anne-Marie Idrac. Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid welcomed Algeria’s participation in the event, which, he said, "proves the success of the new dynamic created by the Mediterranean Union initiative."

In an effort to ease simmering tensions between the two countries–which erupted after two recent Egypt-Algeria World Cup football play-off matches–Algeria’s energy ministry reportedly proposed a new petroleum export deal with Egypt.

In a related development Sunday, Algerian Petroleum Minister Shakib Khalil discussed several proposed joint oil refinery and petrochemical projects with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Fahmi. Egyptian Petroleum Ministry spokesman Hamdi Abdel Aziz quoted Khalil as saying, "Egypt is the great Arab and African sister of Algeria."

Khalil went on to praise Petrojet, an Egyptian oil company currently carrying out projects in Algeria worth a total of some LE3.2 million.

Acting Egyptian Ambassador to Algeria Hisham Abdel Wahab, for his part, said that Egyptian workers that had fled Algeria in the aftermath of the contentious football matches had returned to their jobs amid a "fraternal atmosphere." He went on to say that the Algerian authorities had been "very cooperative" with the Egyptian expatriate community in Algeria.

Meanwhile, informed sources say that the Algerian Sevital Group is currently negotiating a loan with multinational finance house Citibank with a view to buying majority shares in Algeria’s leading mobile phone company, which is owned by Egyptian telecommunication giant Orascom Telecom (OT).

The French press had previously reported that the French Vivendi company was in the process of negotiating a merger with Sevital to buy OT’s Algeria operations, but that OT owner Naguib Sawiris had turned down the proposal. OT’s Algerian operations alone account for almost 40 percent of total liquidity generated by Orascom operations worldwide.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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