French President Nicolas Sarkozy campaigned for a new start in ties with Algeria during a three-day visit that ended but refused to give the apology for colonial misdeeds demanded by his hosts.
With the past still weighing heavily on political relations between France and Algeria, Sarkozy instead focused on cementing close economic ties with the oil producing Arab country.
In four speeches during the trip Sarkozy denounced a "deeply unfair" colonial system and said France was ready to "face up" to its past role.
But hours after returning to France, he hailed the thousands of Algerian Muslim harkis who fought alongside French soldiers during the Algerian war of independence.
He sealed a rash of energy, transport and construction deals worth over $7 billion involving French firms including Total SA , Alstom and Gaz de France.
"I did not come here to deny the past. But I came to tell you the future is more important," he told students at Mentouri university in the city of Constantine.
The very fact the trip went ahead was seen by some diplomats as a victory. Comments from an Algerian minister attributing Sarkozy's May election to a Jewish lobby and comments from officials about Sarkozy's refusal to apologise for colonial abuses led to fears the visit could be cancelled.
Comments in Algeria's press summing up the trip suggested Sarkozy's words had fallen well short of expectations.
"Instead of a frank recognition and, most of all, an unconditional condemnation of the crimes committed by colonial France, the French president dished out a declaration that was sterilized, lifeless, if not downright insidious," said daily El Watan.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Aralık 2007, 14:06