ALGIERS – Cuban President Raul Castro on Sunday began a three-day official visit to Algeria, his third since becoming head of state, the aim of which is to deepen political and trade ties with one of the main oil and gas exporters in North Africa.
Castro was welcomed at Houari Boumediene Airport by Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra and several other top government officials.
From there, he went to the monument to the Martyrs of the Algerian Revolution, where he placed a floral offering to honor those citizens who lost their lives in the long and bloody war for independence from France.
Castro made two prior visits to Algeria in February and July 2009, and – as on those two occasions – his agenda on this trip has been quite closely guarded by both Algiers and Havana, evidently for security reasons.
Officially, it is known only that Castro’s visit is being made after a specific invitation by ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and is aimed at strengthening the “historic” bilateral relationship established more than 50 years ago.
During Castro’s stay, the two leaders will discuss the international and regional situation, bilateral relations, the situation in Africa, the crisis affecting the Arab world and the region’s links with Latin America.
Currently, Algeria and Cuba are cooperating in healthcare, tourism, the hydraulic industry, higher education, scientific research, education, sports, fishing, agriculture and rural and cultural development.
Healthcare is a particularly “dynamic” area of cooperation, with more than 900 Cuban healthcare workers stationed in Algeria focusing on the health of mothers and newborns and the fight against cancer. In addition, Cuba has facilitated the construction in Algeria of medical clinics and hospitals specializing in ophthalmology.