ALGIERS (ANA/ S. Aravopoulou) Greece and Algeria are intensifying their relations after a period of many years, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said here on Thursday, in joint statements with Algeria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra.

Kotzias arrived in Algiers for an official visit on Thursday and held a joint press conference with Lamamra following their meeting and talks held between large Greek and Algerian delegations.

He noted that Algeria was one of the most important countries on the shores of the Mediterranean, being the largest in terms of size, with a growing population and economy, in addition to being a major exporter of natural gas and oil to Greece. He also noted the traditionally good relations between the two countries.

Expressing satisfaction with the results of his visit, Kotzias said the trip was successful on all levels, including the immediate steps that were decided on Thursday and in terms of preparing for a visit by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and a return visit by Algeria’s foreign minister to Athens.

During their talks, Kotzias and Lamamra focused on the region’s problems and agreed to further develop bilateral ties on the foreign ministry and government levels but also between businesses, with plans for a business forum. Kotzias pointed out that both countries were “neighbours of Libya in different ways” and that both had a strong interest in events in Syria, where their views converged on a series of issues. They also agreed to make preparations for a mixed ministerial committee to examine the further development of economic relations, especially in the energy sector, with Kotzias saying that Greece can act as a gateway for natural gas to Europe.

Lamamra, on his part, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of their talks and said there was already a good foundation in the relations between the two countries for further cooperation in all areas, especially energy. Praising the work done by Greek companies operating in Algeria, he said that they assisted the country’s development, and expressed hope that there will be more investments in the future, pledging the foreign ministry’s support.

He also welcomed the decisions for closer cooperation agreed during Kotzias’ visit, noting that there was strong potential for intensifying economic relations.

Kotzias concluded his visit to Algeria by meeting the President of the Council of the Nation (Senate) Abdelkader Bensalah on Thursday afternoon.

The Greek minister’s next stop is in the Maltese capital Valletta, where he will take part in the informal Gymnich meeting of EU foreign ministers on Friday.

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