U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is in Algeria, in what officials believe is the first such visit by a U.S. defense secretary.
Secretary Rumsfeld says he came to Algeria because it has become a good partner in the war on terrorism. He says the country has come a long way since the years when it was a staunch opponent of U.S. policy, as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Now, Algerian forces are preparing to participate in a NATO counter-terrorism operation in the Mediterranean, starting in June.
Algeria is also one of the most active participants in the U.S. Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative. A senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity says the United States wants to further expand military relations with Algeria. But, he says, it also wants the Algerian government to think more creatively about how to implement greater political reforms.