US Secretary of Defence in Algeria

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper arrived on 1 October to Algeria in a visit, the first by an American Defence Secretary since 2006. In his visit, Esper met with the Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

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The US Department of Defence said in a statement that Esper discussed expanding military cooperation between the U.S. and Algeria with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

"My meeting today with the president and members of the military went extremely well, there are a number of areas where we plan to increase our cooperation, in areas such as counterterrorism. We look to improve our exercises and training together. We also discussed other issues involving our militaries, which I am confident will increase our interoperability as well," said Esper said after leaving his meeting at the presidential palace in Algiers.

Defence Secretary Mark T. Esper places a wreath at the Martyrs Monument which overlooks the Algerian capital of Algiers.

This visit comes days after U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command, met with President Abdelmajid Tebboune in Algiers, Algeria on 23 Sept, to discuss regional security issues and engagement opportunities.

"We would like to strengthen our ties with Algeria, and we look forward to both increasing engagements and furthering our cooperation," General Stephen Townsend, the commander of US Africa Command, said in a statement following his meeting with Tebboune.

“Algeria is a committed counterterrorism partner. They play a central role to the security of North Africa and the Mediterranean," said Townsend. “The stability and security of this region is important to U.S., African, and European interests.”

Mark Esper is the first U.S. Secretary of Defence to visit Algeria since Donald Rumsfeld in 2006. 

SIPRI's latest report on trends in international arms transfers in 2019 states that Algeria was the third on the list Russia's top arms clients between 2015-2019. The North African country is only the second after Egypt in military power in Africa. 

Russia was the largest arms supplier to Algeria in 2015–19, accounting for 67 per cent of Algerian arms imports, followed by China (13 per cent) and Germany (11 per cent)- SIPRI.