CIA director calls Algerian army chief of staff to discuss combating terrorism

The call comes after Chengriha met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last month and Moscow said it was ready to help improve Algeria’s armed forces’ combat readiness.

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CIA Director Bill Burns called the Algerian army’s chief of staff on Wednesday to discuss matters of mutual concern, according to the Algerian defense ministry and a source familiar with the matter.

The Algerian defense ministry said the pair discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and security coordination between the two countries. Burns and Said Chengriha also express their satisfaction with the level of security coordination achieved, “especially in the field of combating terrorism.”

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The call comes after Chengriha met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last month. Moscow said it was ready to help improve Algeria’s armed forces’ combat readiness. Burns has spearheaded US efforts to push back against Russian influence in Africa, particularly after the mercenary Wagner Group signed official understandings with multiple country’s armies on the continent.

The CIA declined to comment on the call.

Burns traveled to Libya in January in what was reported to be the first visit by a CIA director to the country since the US ambassador and others were killed in 2012 during an attack.

Last year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, voicing concerns over Algeria’s growing ties with Russia and calling for sanctions against officials in the Algerian government for an arms deal with Moscow.

Reports indicated that Algeria signed an arms deal with Russia last year worth more than $7 billion. The deal reportedly would see Russia sell Su-57 fighter jets, air defense systems and more.

Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which Congress passed in 2017, sanctions are to be imposed against countries that strike defense or intelligence deals with several countries, including Russia.

Read more: Presidents of Russia, Algeria pledge to deepen ‘strategic’ ties

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