French President Nicolas Sarkozy was heading to Algeria on Monday for a three-day state visit, with tensions running high between the North African country and its former colonial ruler even before the trip started.
Sarkozy has pledged to overcome the troubles of the past by focusing on the future and improving economic ties.
He and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika are set to sign a partnership treaty, and Sarkozy is expected to sign energy contracts with natural gas-rich Algeria.
But Sarkozy's plans have been overshadowed by comments from an Algerian government minister. Mohamed Chedif Abbas, Algeria's minister for veterans, said in an interview last week that Sarkozy was brought to power by a "Jewish lobby that has a monopoly on French industry" - a comment that stunned French officials. Abbas also said France must recognize its colonial-era crimes in Algeria, or "reconciliation was not a possibility."
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