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Algeria's Leadership Is Pledged to Diversity

In the opinion-page article ``West Must Back Reform Efforts in Algeria,'' April 26, the author writes about a doomed and chaotic Algeria, where death squads roam freely, where some 20,000 out of a total of about 160,000 have defected to fight on the Islamists' side, and where the Islamic Salvation Front enjoys strong legitimacy. The figures he gives exist in the realm of fantasy; his piece borders on disinformation.

Indeed, how could one interpret his piece as a call to the West to support the reform efforts being made in Algeria when he paints such a hopeless situation? I would invite the author to go to Algeria to see what is really happening.

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It would have been more constructive to depict what has been happening in Algeria over the past six months.

The country's leadership is determined to pursue a policy of dialogue and national reconciliation involving all those among the Algerian people who unequivocally reject the use of violence and terrorism as tools to reach political objectives. It is committed to continue implementing its program of deep economic and political reforms. It is also determined to break with past practices and to solve urgent economic problems. In this regard, Algeria has completed its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a one-year stabilization program to be followed by a three-year structural adjustment program. A letter of intent was signed on April 9.

Finally, the author of ``US Foreign Policy Should Make Room for Islamic Voices'' incorrectly labels ``revolutionary movement'' a group of extremists whose sole goal is to reach power by any means necessary. He then advises the United States administration not to fear the Islamic culture. True, because what is happening in Algeria has absolutely nothing to do with opponents versus defenders of Islam. Rather it has to do with extremists who slit throats and maim innocent people versus those who are convinced that a better Algeria should be based on political pluralism, a market economy, social justice, and cultural diversity. Nourredine Yazid Zerhouni, Washington Algerian ambassador to the US

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