U.S. General Thomas D. Waldhauser and Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel

ALGIERS––The visiting Commander of the U.S. Command for Africa (Africom) General Thomas D. Waldhauser on Wednesday said the U.S. and Algeria are working as equal partners to promote security and stability.

“We look forward to exploring future security cooperation activities with Algeria,” General Waldhauser told reporters after he met with Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel.

He said, “My visit to Algeria is a good opportunity to discuss directly with the Algerian senior officials our common defense and security concerns.”

Foreign Minister Messahel said the talks were fruitful and provided an opportunity “to exchanged analysis and experiences in terms of regional security.

Adding that “Algeria and Africom have to work more closely to further strengthen cooperation on security issues.”

“The two parties discussed bilateral military cooperation, and exchanged analysis and points of view on issues of common interest,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Sources say AFRICOM and Algeria have been holding recurrent meetings to coordinate counterterrorism efforts and exchange views over the prevailing crisis in Africa.

In its military relations with Africa, AFRICOM is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the U.S. Armed Forces, responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations with 53 African nations.

The new relations have generated some opposition. Few Algerian opposition parties argued that the U.S. is pressing on Algerian government to accept the establishment of foreign military bases under the authority of AFRICOM in this north African nation, although the government dispels such allegations.

In 2010, the nations of Algeria, Niger, Mali and Mauritania established the Joint Military Staff Committee of the Sahel Region (CEMOC) which aims at fighting terrorism, and organized crime in the region.

Sources say this mechanism is seen also as an argument for the Sahel countries to block any potential foreign intervention in their region.