Algeria says no plans to open border with Morocco


Reopening Algeria’s border with Morocco is not on the agenda, Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said dismissing media reports that a thaw over the issue was imminent.

Algeria shut the border in 1994 when Morocco imposed entry visas requirements on Algerians in the wake of a gun attack in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. Prickly relations have kept it shut ever since, hampering trade flows across north Africa.

A series of high-level visits by Moroccan and Algerian officials in the past few weeks prompted local media, and some Western diplomats, to say the border could be reopened soon, Reuters reports.
“The opening of the border is not on the agenda,” Ouyahia told a news conference in the Algerian capital. “At the moment there is not a good climate for re-establishing trust.”

The border, which runs 1,559 km (970 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara desert, has been closed several times since 1962, when Algeria followed Morocco in winning independence from France.

The two countries are in dispute over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony which Morocco annexed in 1975. Algeria supports Western Saharan independence movement the Polisario Front, a stance that angers Morocco.

Morocco said when it shut the border in 1994 it suspected the gunmen in the attack, who killed two Spaniards in a Marrakesh hotel, had ties to Algeria.