Algerian leader: Morocco is our brother, not enemy

Associated Press
Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika prays at the mausoleum of Tlemcen, 520 km south-west of Algiers, Sunday, April 17, 2011. In a television speech Algeria's President announced democratic reforms Friday. (AP Photo/Sidali Djarboub)
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Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika prays at the mausoleum of Tlemcen, 520 km south-west of Algiers, Sunday, April 17, 2011. In a television speech Algeria's President announced democratic reforms Friday.

Algeria's president says there are no problems between his country and neighboring Morocco, burying with words at least years of tensions over the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, on a visit to the border city of Tlemcen, said Sunday that "Morocco is a neighbor and brother. We must cooperate."

Bouteflika said the Western Sahara issue which has divided the two North African nations since 1975 "is a U.N. problem."

Morocco, which has laid claim to the vast territory, wants large autonomy for the region while Algeria wants a referendum by the region's natives whom it supports in southern camps.

Differences between the two countries have compromised efforts for regional integration in North Africa and at one point nearly brought the two to war.

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