U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has pushed for closer counter-terrorism cooperation in North Africa, during meetings with the leaders of Algeria and Tunisia.

Rice says her talks Saturday in Algiers with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika confirmed the strong ties between Algeria and the United States.

Algeria has seen a surge in violence in recent years mainly due to attacks by al-Qaida's North Africa branch.

Earlier Saturday, Rice spoke with Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis.  Rice pressed for democratic reform in Tunisia in addition to discussing security and counter-terrorism cooperation.

Rice traveled to Tunis from Libya after making the first visit there by a U.S. secretary of state in 55 years.  After meeting Friday with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Rice said U.S.-Libyan relations are "off to a good start."

Rice said her visit to Tripoli shows Washington does not have permanent enemies but she noted the U.S. and Libya still have a long way to go to advance their relations.

The U.S. and Libya broke ties in the 1970s.  U.S. warplanes bombed Mr. Gadhafi's compound in 1986 in retaliation for what it said was Libya's involvement in a terrorist attack on Americans.  Relations began to improve in 2003 when Libya accepted responsibility for acts of terrorism and agreed to end its weapons of mass destruction program.

Rice's North Africa tour also takes her to Morocco.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.