The United States Extends Condolences to Algeria on the passing of Ambassador Redha Malek

On behalf of the U.S. government and the American people, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert extended condolences to the Algerian people on the passing of former Algerian Prime Minister and Ambassador to the United States Redha Malek.  On August 1, Nauert said:

“We were saddened to learn about the death of former Algerian Prime Minister Redha Malek. The former prime minister was a long-time partner of the United States and as many of you may recall he played an instrumental role in the negotiations that led to the release of the 52 American Embassy hostages in Iran in 1981. In May of this year, Mr. Malek hosted our Ambassador to Algeria at his home for a four-hour lunch. He spoke at length about the strength of U.S.-Algerian bilateral relations and his confidence in the partnership that we have and the confidence that it will grow stronger in the years to come. We agree with that and extend our condolences to the Prime Minister’s family, his loved ones, and the Algerian people.”

Watch Spokesperson Nauert’s statement here: 

This year, the U.S. Embassy in Algiers commemorated the 36th anniversary of the signing of the Algiers Accords on January 19, 1981.  The United States remains profoundly grateful to Algeria for its mediation efforts—to which Ambassador Malek played an invaluable role—that led to the release of 52 American diplomats held hostage in Iran.

On November 4, 1979, the American Embassy in Tehran was occupied by protestors, triggering the Tehran hostage crisis.  In 1980-1981, Algeria mediated the crisis.  Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher shuttled between Algeria and Washington and finally reached a deal under which the hostages would be released in return for an unfreezing of Iranian assets and a lifting of sanctions.  While Mr. Christopher was in Algiers, Villa Montfeld served as his headquarters.  The signing of the Algiers Accords on January 19, 1981 by Deputy Secretary Christopher and Foreign Minister Mohammed Benyahia led to the release of the hostages and their arrival in Algiers on January 20, 1981.  Before departing Algiers, Deputy Secretary Christopher signed and handed to Foreign Minister Benyahia the following note:

“Mr. Minister, I want to express to your President, to you and your colleagues, and to the Algerian people the deep gratitude and respect of the people of the United States for bringing us to this moment of profound relief that these fifty-two men and women and their families have emerged from the chasm of fear.  You and your government have demonstrated an inspiring commitment to humane values, and have provided the world with a singular example of the art of diplomacy.”

For the important role that Villa Montfeld played in United States diplomatic history, in 2016 Secretary of State John Kerry added Villa Montfeld to the Secretary’s Register of Culturally Significant Property. The Register includes 33 U.S. government properties and is an honorific listing of important diplomatic buildings overseas that figure prominently in our country’s international heritage.

Today, Villa Montfeld serves as the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Algeria.  To commemorate the 36thanniversary of the signing of the Algiers Accords and express the enduring gratitude of the U.S. government and the American people to Algeria, former U.S. Ambassador to Algeria Joan Polaschik hosted a luncheon at Villa Montfeld in honor of the Algerian diplomats—including Ambassador Redha Malek—who helped negotiate the agreement.  For as Deputy Secretary Christopher recalled: “All in all, no one performed with more energy, skill, commitment, or honor than did the members of the Algerian team.  It is a simple fact that the settlement could not have been achieved without them.”