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Algeria-Mauritania diplomatic row leads to envoy expulsions

Algeria expels Mauritania envoy in response to a similar move taken by Nouakchott against a member of Algerian diplomatic mission
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (R) shakes hands with his Mauritanian counterpart Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in Algiers on 11 December, 2011 (AFP)

NOUAKCHOTT – Algeria on Sunday expelled a Mauritanian diplomat in response to a similar move taken earlier by Mauritania against a member of Algeria's diplomatic mission in Nouakchott, a Mauritanian Foreign Ministry source has said.

He told the Anadolu Agency that Algeria's Foreign Ministry expelled Mohamed Ould Abdullah, a security advisor for Mauritania's embassy in Algiers, after declaring him "persona non grata."

The source added that the diplomat started preparations to leave Algeria after receiving Algiers' message.

Earlier on Sunday, an Algerian diplomat described as both "surprising" and "incomprehensible" a decision by Mauritania to declare Belkacem Alchroati, a senior advisor at the Algerian embassy in Mauritania, "persona non grata."

Speaking to local Echorouk TV, the diplomat added that Algeria was considering an official response to the Mauritanian declaration.

Mauritanian media said the decision was taken because the Algerian diplomat stood behind an article published by a Mauritanian website, noting that the article criticised Mauritania's foreign policies.

Mauritanian media went on to say that the controversial article talked about a complaint filed by Mauritania at the United Nations against Morocco, accusing the North African state of flooding Mauritania's northern border with narcotics.

Mauritania's Al-Bayan website had recently published an article alleging that a complaint had been filed by Mauritania against Morocco at the UN, accusing it of flooding the country with drugs.

Mauritanian authorities denied this allegation, deeming the incident an attempt to destabilise its relations with Rabat.

They later arrested the website's editor.

On Saturday, Algeria's Echorouk daily quoted Alchroati as saying that he had fallen victim to a conspiracy in this matter.

The diplomat refused, however, to mention further details.

The incident is unprecedented in Algerian-Mauritanian relations which have been stable in recent years.

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