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PRESIDENT Mugabe is set to leave for Algeria today on a four-day State visit aimed at enhancing economic and political co-operation between Zimbabwe and the North African country.

The President and his delegation are visting Algeria at the invitation of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha yesterday confirmed the State visit, saying Zimbabwe and Algeria had a long history of co-operation in various fields including economic, political and education sectors.

“This State visit is in view of the g political relations that we have with Algeria,” he said. “We have also been working together in education where we have students from here studying in Algeria.

“The economic co-operation needs to be enhanced by identifying other areas of working together and it is hoped that the State visit will give us an opportunity to enhance the economic co-operation.”

Contrary to mischievous opinions held by some private newspapers in Zimbabwe, a State visit is only undertaken at the invitation of the host country which also bankrolls it.

State visits are considered to be the highest expression of friendly bilateral relations between two sovereign states and discussions centre on networking and developing economic, cultural and social links.

At the end of a State visit, the foreign Head of State traditionally issues a formal invitation for a reciprocal State visit by the host.

For this State visit to materialise, President Bouteflika sent his special envoy, Mr Abdelkader Messahel, at the end of February with an invitation to President Mugabe.

Speaking after meeting President Mugabe at State House, Mr Messahel said the message from President Bouteflika included an invitation for the President to visit the North African country to discuss bilateral issues and conflicts in Mali and the menace of Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria.

President Mugabe, who is also Sadc chairman, will be briefed by President Bouteflika on the Malian conflict and the Nigerian Boko Haram crisis in his capacity as the African Union chairman.

Algeria has been making some efforts to solve the conflicts in Mali, Nigeria and Libya and with the help of the African Union, has been trying to resolve the Malian crisis through dialogue between the two warring parties.

Incoming Algerian ambassador Mr Nacerdine Sai said soon after presenting his credentials to President Mugabe at State House in Harare on Friday that the State visit would help to enhance the already flourishing relations between Zimbabwe and Algeria.

“The trip will make bilateral relations between our two countries ger,” he said. “I told the President that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the people of Algeria were ready to welcome him and once again expressing solidarity and friendship with the people of Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe and Algeria enjoy good relations in the field of education and training and Ambassador Sai said it was important to explore ways of expanding co-operation between the two countries.

The two countries signed a joint commission in 2009 and the North African nation has been offering scholarships to Zimbabwean students studying in such fields as medicine and engineering since 2005.

Diplomatic ties between Zimbabwe and Algeria date back to the days of the liberation struggle when the North African country offered training to liberation fighters.

Algeria’s industry is mainly anchored by petroleum, natural gas, light industries and mining, while in agriculture the country produces wheat, barley, oats and grapes and is into sheep rearing.

The country mainly exports petroleum products and natural gas.

Source : The Herald