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Algeria recalls ambassador to France for consultations

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows a small boat carrying illegal migrants off the southeast coast of Spain, north of the Moroccan-Algerian border, in the Mediterranean Sea.

Algeria says it has recalled its ambassador from France for consultations, amid the French government’s decision to decrease the number of visas granted to Algerian nationals.

Algeria’s Foreign Ministry “recalls its ambassador from Paris for consultations and a statement will be issued regarding this,” said Algeria’s state broadcaster on Saturday, quoting a statement released by the presidency.

The Algerian government said on Thursday that a day earlier its foreign ministry had summoned French Ambassador Francois Gouyette to protest France’s decision made the previous week to sharply reduce the number of the visas. France said the measure would also apply to nationals from Morocco and Tunisia.

Algiers at the time denounced the move by Paris as a “unilateral decision of the French government.” The Algerian government also described the visa decision as an “unfortunate act” that caused “confusion and ambiguity as to its motivation and its scope.”

French President Emanuel Macron has ordered the number of Algerian and Moroccan visas to be sharply reduced by 50 percent compared to 2020.

France said it made the decision in response to the Maghreb governments' refusal to accept illegal migrants and asylum seekers sent home by Paris or not doing enough to allow illegal immigrants to return.

The Maghreb governments refer to the governments of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia, which established the Arab Maghreb Union in 1989 in an attempt to promote cooperation and economic integration in a common market..

Macron has also reduced more than 31,500 visas for Algerians for the second six months of the year, while the number of visas delivered to Tunisia has also been shrunk by a third.

Immigration has become a contentious issue for the French presidential election set for April 2022, with right-wing and far-right parties challenging Macron’s policies. The incumbent president has not yet said whether he will stand for re-election.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said on Monday that she would call a referendum proposing drastic limits on immigration if she is elected president next year. Le Pen said the referendum would propose strict criteria for entering the French territory and for acquiring French nationality.

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