Algeria has backed India’s stand on the ‘Kashmir’ issue, saying that the region is an integral part of the South Asian country.

During his meeting with visiting Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari in Algiers on Thursday, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that the North African country would support India’s fight against cross border terrorism, as it considers New Delhi as its ‘friend’. Amidst escalating tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, Prime Minister Sellal stressed that his government would take all the necessary steps to strengthen ties with India. Without taking Pakistan’s name (directly), the PM told the press that state or non-state actors should not use (hardline) outfits to create tension in neighbouring countries.

The Indian vice president, who just concluded a five-day two-nation tour of Hungary and Algeria, thanked PM Sellal for supporting India’s stand on Kashmir, saying that the main purpose of his visit was to discuss ‘terrorism’ with the top Algerian and Hungarian leaderships.

Vice President Ansari further expressed solidarity with Algerian people, saying that the African nation, too, had faced terrorism in the past and managed to protect many lives after making years of efforts. “There was not a single family who did not lose any of its members due to terror in Algeria,” he added.

Speaking at a joint press conference, the vice president stressed it was unfortunate that his visit to the two countries came after a long gap.  While a senior political functionary from India had visited Algeria way back in 1985, former President Shankar Dayal Sharma was the last Indian head of the state to visit Hungary in 1993. “Political visits to the two countries were lacking and the trip was undertaken to reconnect the old ties. There were substantive discussions on various issues. It was a very satisfactory visit,” Ansari told the Algerian media.

In Algiers, Vice President Ansari held a separate meeting with Algerian Minister of Industry and Mining Abdessalem Bouchouareb in the presence of Indian Minister of State for Fertilisers and Chemicals Mansukh L Mandaviya. Later, he told the press that India wants to set up a joint venture mega fertiliser company in Algeria in the near future. “The fertiliser plant is linked to our efforts for food security,” said Ansari.

Before leaving for New Delhi in the evening, the Indian leader met Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra. They decided to explore new avenues to take India-Algeria ties to a new level and to “rejuvenate” the bilateral relations.

Earlier, the Indian leader met Hungarian President Janos Ader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other top leaders in Budapest and decided to work together to eliminate the menace of terrorism. President Ader told his Indian guest that only a strong global legal framework and sustained global action could help the modern world fight terror.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog – Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]