ALGIERS, Algeria, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Algerian officials that the country has a leadership position to play in the fight against al-Qaida.
Hague arrived in Algeria during a state tour of Middle East and North African countries. His visit comes following the release of a 13-minute audiotape by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calling on Algerians to follow regional examples and rise up against the government.
Hague said the Algerian government was an important regional partner in counter-terrorism.
"We will continue to support Algeria in its fight against al-Qaida and to encourage a regional approach to this common threat," he said in a statement.
Zawahiri, in the latest publication of the terrorism leaflet Inspire, praised the work of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African branch of al-Qaida, for its operations in Algeria.
AQIM took responsibility for August attacks on the Cherchell Military Academy in Algeria. The attack left 16 cadets and two civilians dead.
Hague said Algeria's strategic position in the region made it an important partner in bringing former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to justice.
Libyan Col. Abdul Basit, a military spokesman for the ruling Transitional National Council, told CNN last month that members of the former regime were believed in Sirte, near Libya's southwestern border with Algeria.
Algeria, said Hague, is urged to cooperate with Tripoli and the international courts in bringing indicted members of the former Gadhafi regime to justice.