David Cameron is travelling to Algeria to step up efforts to tackle the growing terrorist threat in northern Africa after a BP oil plant was seized by Islamist militants and six British hostages died.
The visit comes after Britain announced that up to 330 British troops would help out in the battle against rebels in neighbouring Mali.
As well as six Britons, 37 foreigners, at least 10 Algerians and dozens of terrorists died in the attack on the In Amenas gas plant, which is jointly operated by BP, earlier this month.
The Algerian government took the controversial decision to storm the site in the Sahara desert, with Mr Cameron and other world leaders protesting about not being notified in advance.
During talks with Mr Sellal and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers, Mr Cameron is expected to stress the need for a “tough, patient and intelligent response” to extremism in the region.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was yesterday forced to deny “mission creep” in the intervention to bolster the government in Mali as he boosted the UK’s role. Up to 240 troops could be deployed to train the Malian military and prepare soldiers from other African countries, while another 90 personnel could provide air support.
A roll-on-roll-off ferry has also been offered to transport French equipment to Africa.
In his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, Mr Cameron said: “I believe we are in the midst of a long struggle against murderous terrorists and a poisonous ideology that supports them.
“Just as we’ve successfully put pressure on al Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so al Qaida franchises have been growing for years in Yemen, in Somalia and across parts of North Africa, places that have suffered hideously through hostage taking, terrorism and crime.”
Mr Cameron insisted the international community had to “address that poisonous narrative that the terrorists feed on”.
“We need to close down the ungoverned space in which they thrive and, yes, we need to deal with the grievances that they use to garner support,” he added.
Mr Cameron will also be attending an international development conference in the Liberian capital Monrovia. The prime minister is co-chairing the United Nations’ High Level Panel meeting on the Millennium development goals with Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The meeting is considering what new targets to set after the existing development goals expire in 2015.