President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Algeria for a three-day visit aimed at mending ties with the former French colony, which this year marked the 60th anniversary of its independence.

Algerian President Tebboune (R) says he hopes President Macron's visit will
Algerian President Tebboune (R) says he hopes President Macron's visit will "open up new perspectives for partnership and cooperation with France." (AFP)

President Emmanuel Macron has indicated France and Algeria should move beyond their "painful" shared history and look to the future at the start of a three-day visit to the North African country.

"We have a complex, painful common past. And it has at times prevented us from looking at the future," Macron said on Thursday after meeting Algerian counterpart President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

He said a joint committee with historians from both Algeria and France will be set up to study the archives on both sides on the colonial period.

Standing alongside Macron in front of the intricate North African tilework of the palace where they met, Tebboune said: "We hope the visit will open up new perspectives for partnership and cooperation with France".

"The constructive talks we held today, with the usual frankness, demonstrate how special, deep and complex the relations between our two countries are," Tebboune added.

Before his meeting with Tebboune, Macron visited a monument to Algerians killed in the war, placing a wreath there.

The trauma of French colonial rule in Algeria and the bitter independence war that ended it in 1962 has haunted relations between the two countries for decades and played into a diplomatic dispute that erupted last year.

Ties with Algeria have become more important for France because the conflict in Ukraine has increased demand in Europe for North African gas, and because of surging migration across the Mediterranean.

Algeria is meanwhile seeking to capitalise on higher energy prices to lock in European investment.

Macron has long wanted to turn the page with Algeria and in 2017 he described French actions during the 1954-62 war that killed hundreds of thousands of Algerians as a "crime against humanity".

That declaration, politically controversial in France, won him popularity in Algeria when he last visited five years ago and he was celebrated by young Algerians.

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Moving beyond fraught history

Macron will again reach out to Algerian youth on this visit with scheduled stops focused on youth culture including breakdancing and North African "Rai" pop music. France is home to more than four million people of Algerian origin.

However, Macron's hopes of moving beyond the fraught history of the colonial era have proven premature before.

Last year he was quoted as suggesting that Algerian national identity did not exist before French rule, and accusing Algeria's leaders of rewriting the history of the independence struggle based on a hatred of France.

The comments provoked a storm in Algeria, where the governing elite is still dominated by the generation that fought for independence and where that struggle occupies a central place in national identity.

Algeria withdrew its ambassador for consultations and closed its airspace to French planes –– complicating the French military mission in the Sahel.

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Source: Reuters