Italy's populist premier Giuseppe Conte on Monday underlined his support for the non-violent demonstrations being held across Algeria since president Abdelaziz Bouteflika cancelled national polls in April. He also recalled the "ancient" friendly relations and bilateral ties between the two countries, Conte's office said in a statement.
Conte made the remarks during talks at the prime minister's office in Rome with Algeria's new deputy premier and foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra, who informed Conte that Bouteflika is committed to "quickly" convening a national conference on political reform as the "delicate institutional transition phase" begins in the country, the statement said.
Conte urged Algeria's rulers "to listen to the demands for change that come from civil society" and said he hoped that Algeria could ensure "a democratic and inclusive process that respected its people and acted in their interests," the statement went on
Conte "also underlined Italy's support in the crucial challenge of Algeria's sustainable development and stability, also that of the Mediterranean region and of Europe," the statement stressed.
Lamamra is visiting Rome as the first leg of a short tour of other capitals, the statement noted.
After a week of protests earlier this month, 82-year-old Bouteflika last week dropped his bid for re-election to a fifth presidential term. But he has said he will stay in office until a new Algerian constitution is adopted, meaning he is likely to remain power for up to another five years.