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Algerian Leader Criticizes Travel Warnings

The leader of Algeria is calling on Japan and other nations to lift their travel warnings against visits to Africa's second largest country. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika vented his frustration about the official travel warnings in a speech Tuesday at the United Nations University in Tokyo.

President Bouteflika told the audience that his country, which underwent a decade of terrible violence in the 1990s, is now as safe as Tokyo. He said Algeria is fed up with the way it is treated, and he singles out Japan. He says official Japanese warnings are hindering economic development and are a blatant injustice.

Japan's Foreign Ministry advises it citizens to avoid traveling to Algeria, and says Japanese business people who feel compelled to visit should be accompanied by a reliable guide.

The U.S. State Department notes that security has been improving in Algeria in recent years, but recommends American citizens avoid traveling overland outside the country's major urban areas.

Mr. Bouteflika, who was Algeria's foreign minister during an era of one-party socialism, has been implementing major economic reform in the nation of 32-million people since he was first elected in 1999 with the backing of the army.

Since then he has restored peace to the Muslim nation and offered amnesty to armed extremists who had fought the government in a civil war in which an estimated 150,000 people died. But Mr. Bouteflika says destroying terrorism cannot be achieved solely through military force.

The Algerian president says military force is not the final or durable solution to terrorism. He says the root causes of terrorism must be addressed and notes that in Algeria, a key has been re-establishing hope in the future among the country's youth.

During meetings Monday with Japanese officials, Mr. Bouteflika called for international efforts to prevent Iraq from breaking up. The Algerian President told Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura that if Iraq is torn apart it would have a serious impact on the entire Middle East region.

Mr. Bouteflika, who was re-elected in April, also met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. The Algerian leader wraps up his four-day visit to Japan on Wednesday.