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Algerian ambassador no-show confirms suspicions

26 January, 2004

Algerian ambassador no-show confirms suspicions

Green MP Keith Locke said today that the abrupt cancellation of the Algerian ambassador's visit to New Zealand raised doubts over the real purpose of his visit.

"It is likely that ambassador Soufiane Mimouni would have used the occasion to pressure the New Zealand government to hand over Ahmed Zaoui," said Mr Locke, the Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

"Mr Mimouni's motivations to visit New Zealand at this time were suspicious from the start. The abrupt no-show tends to confirm the view that he would try to convince the government that Mr Zaoui was not a legitimate refugee.

"While there was no reason given for the abandonment of the talks, it is easy to see how officials got cold feet once questions were raised over the purpose of Mr Mimouni's visit," said Mr Locke.

"Mr Zaoui would face unwarranted persecution if he was forced to return to Algeria. There is no way we should allow that to happen."

ENDS

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