West News Wire: Next week, French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Algeria in an effort to repair the frayed relations between Paris and Algiers.

According to a statement released by Macron’s office on Saturday, Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s offer was accepted by Macron. After a brief trip in December 2017 at the beginning of his first term, when Abdelaziz Bouteflika was still in office, this will be Macron’s second official visit to the nation of North Africa.

Relationships between France and Algeria reached a low point late last year after Macron allegedly questioned if Algeria had ever been as a country prior to the French invasion and accused its “political-military establishment” of rewriting history and inciting “hate toward France.”

Algeria responded by removing its ambassador, but relations between the two parties seem to have improved since then.

“This trip will contribute to deepening the bilateral relationship looking to the future to reinforce Franco-Algerian cooperation in the face of regional challenges and to continue the work of addressing the past,” France’s presidency said in a statement after a call between Macron and Tebboune.

Macron is to visit the former French colony from August 25-27.

The North African country won its independence from France following a gruelling eight-year war, which ended with the signing in March 1962 of the Evian Accords.

On July 5 of the same year, days after 99.72 percent voted for independence in a referendum, Algeria finally broke free from colonial rule – but memories of the 132-year occupation continue to haunt ties with France.

Algeria’s war of independence left hundreds of thousands dead. French historians say half-a-million civilians and combatants died 400,000 of them Algerian while the Algerian authorities insist 1.5 million were killed.

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But six decades on, despite a string of gestures by Macron, France has ruled out any form of apology for the colonial period.

The French presidency announced an upcoming visit as Algeria reels from devastating wildfires exacerbated by climate change.

Fires in northeastern Algeria have killed 38 people, and ravaged more than 10 percent of a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve.

While the northeastern fires have been largely extinguished, firefighters fought two blazes in the far west on Saturday, the Algerian civil defence said.

Macron offered Tebboune France’s land and air firefighting services to help, the presidency said.

Thanks to its large natural gas reserves, Algeria recently has also become a centre of attention for the European Union in its efforts to cut back imports from Russia.

Macron’s trip will be the French president’s second to Algeria as head of state, and will take him to both the capital Algiers and second city Oran.

Tebboune, Bouteflika’s former prime minister, won presidential elections in 2019 after mass protests forced his ageing predecessor to resign.

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