Europeans launch crucial diplomatic mission in Algeria

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — European envoys launched a diplomatic mission to Algeria on Monday, seeking to discuss ways to end six years of violence that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The two-day mission by delegates from Britain, Austria and Luxembourg is not expected to halt the massacres blamed on Islamic insurgents trying to impose strict religious rule in the North African nation.
But it signals a new activism by the West in a crisis that has left an estimated 75,000 people dead. The insurgency was triggered by the army’s cancellation of January 1992 legislative elections that Islamic militants appeared on the verge of winning.
A new wave of massacres since the Dec. 30 start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan sparked the latest diplomatic effort.
Algeria has long rejected foreign interference in its affairs, refusing even humanitarian assistance. That severely limits the scope of the current mission, but Europe and the West still consider it a crucial opening of dialogue in a relationship long characterized by mistrust.
The European envoys made no statement when they arrived in Algiers late Monday.