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Merkel’s Algeria visit cancelled because president falls ill

Merkel's Algeria visit cancelled because president falls ill

ALGIERS, Algeria — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called off a trip to Algeria at the last minute because long-ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is too sick to meet her.

The APS state news agency, citing a presidential statement, says German and Algerian authorities agreed Monday to delay the visit because of Bouteflika’s “temporary unavailability” due to severe bronchitis. No date for a further visit was announced.

The surprise announcement came just an hour before Merkel’s plane was due to take off from Berlin, and as German flags lined the Algiers airport for her arrival.

Bouteflika, 79, has rarely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke that left him confined to a wheelchair. He had invited Merkel to discuss regional security and economic issues.

Both sides had seen it as an important visit. Merkel had also been scheduled to meet the prime minister and business leaders, and tour a girls’ school during the visit Monday and Tuesday.

Key concerns for Merkel are better co-operation in limiting migration from Africa to Europe and the extremist violence that has hit Europe in recent years, such as the December attack on Berlin by a Tunisian migrant claimed by the Islamic State group.

The Associated Press

Canadian Press