UK prime minister visits Algeria with MI6 chief

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 30, 2013 19:15 hrs

British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to help Algeria improve security on a visit to the North African country Wednesday, after a deadly attack on a natural gas plant earlier this month and amid a growing threat from al-Qaida-linked militants in the region.

The Jan. 16 attack on Algeria's Ain Amenas gas plant ignited a four-day siege with Algerian forces in which at least 37 hostages and 29 militants were killed.

Cameron __ accompanied by the head of Britain's international spy agency MI6 and his national security adviser — told reporters on his flight to Algeria that his aim is to help the country "help itself" amid a growing threat from al-Qaida-linked terrorists in the region, according to Britain's Press Association.

The prime minister was holding talks with the Algerian prime minister and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika about strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

"What I want to do is work with the Algerian government and with other governments in the region to make sure we do everything we can do to combat terrorism in a way that is both tough and intelligent, and uses everything we have at our disposal, which will make them safer, make us safer, make the world safer," Cameron told reporters in Algiers.

He was met at the airport by his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmalek Sellal. He laid a wreath at the Martyrs Monument, a memorial overlooking the Bay of Algiers that was built to mark Algeria's war for independence from France between 1954 and 1962.

Cameron also met with staff at the British Embassy in Algiers to thank them for their work during the hostage crisis, which claimed the lives of six Britons.

His visit was the first from a serving British prime minister since Algeria gained independence in 1962.

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