UPDATE 1-Algeria, France tussle over archives 50 yrs after split

Wed Jul 4, 2012 5:49pm GMT

* France took Algerian archives during colonial rule

* Algeria says is rightful owner, wants items returned

* Row damaging ties 50 years after independence (Adds French comment)

By Christian Lowe

ALGIERS, July 4 (Reuters) - When French soldiers and administrators left Algeria after more than a century of colonial rule, they did not go empty-handed.

They took historical artefacts, books and maps, a national heritage that still sits in French libraries and archives today and which Algeria says its former colonial master should return.

France and Algeria this week mark the 50th anniversary of the July 5, 1962, independence declaration that ended French rule. Each side will reflect on the problems that entangle them.

Algerians want Paris to apologise for decades of colonial servitude and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people who fought for independence. France wrestles with its legacy in the form of a huge community descended from Algerian migrants that struggles to integrate into French society.

Set against these problems, the missing archives are not the most serious issue weighing on French-Algerian relations. But the tussle captures the deep sense of both grievance and mutual dependence that remains between the two countries half a century after they broke apart.   Continued...

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