The visit is scheduled to be a short one, lasting only two days, but starting on Monday Saad-Eddine Othmani will hold talks with his Algerian counterpart Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci and a meeting with the longterm president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
As The View from Fez reported recently, there was a small sign of relations improving, when a judge in the Algerian town of Maghnia agreed to a temporary opening of the Zouj Bghal crossing in order to allow Moroccan cyclists to take part in a cycle race (see our story here).The border between the two countries was closed in 1994 following an Islamist militant attack in Marrakesh in which the involvement of Algerian secret services is widely suspected. Tensions in the border region occasionally flare and a July clash between Moroccan border guards and armed men crossing from Algeria left one soldier dead.
|Al Qaeda in El Islamic Maghreb|
photo Morocco World News
One positive sign that may open the door to progress is the discontent within the Algerian military with the Polisario over infiltration by AQIM (Al Qaeda in El Islamic Maghreb) in the Tindouf refugee camps.
For Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Othmani, there will be no quick fix. He does, however have the backing of his predecessor, Taeib Fassi Fihri who, back in November said, "Whatever the differences, it's abnormal not to have a normal relationship with a neighbouring country".