* Algerian leader, Kerry meet on security cooperation
* Longest Bouteflika public appearance since stroke
* Bouteflika expected to win fourth term on April 17
By Patrick Markey
ALGIERS, April 3 Algerian President Abdelaziz
Bouteflika met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on
Thursday, discussing better security cooperation in the Maghreb
region in one of his longest appearances since a stroke a year
The meeting was one of the few times the Algerian leader has
been seen talking so openly in public since the illness that put
him in a Paris hospital for months and raised questions about
his bid for re-election this month.
The images broadcast by state television showed Bouteflika
standing to greet Kerry and discussing through an interpreter
how to improve cooperation between the two countries who are
allies in the fight against Islamist militancy.
In the clip, only a part of the meeting, Bouteflika
exchanged greetings and joked in French with Kerry about the
U.S. official winning a Nobel prize. He also asked about getting
more electronic intelligence sharing from Washington.
"You have technology, you have intelligence that we do not
have," Bouteflika says in a soft voice though the translator.
"What we would like to have is the intelligence in real time ...
in the Sahara, in the Sahel region."
Earlier the Algerian leader was also seen on state
television discussing matters with the Qatari emir, who was
visiting Algiers on Thursday.
The state of the 77-year-old Algerian leader's health has
been in question especially since he announced he would run for
a fourth term in April's ballot after 15 years governing the
North African oil producer.
Western governments will be watching for any potential
transition in Algeria, which is a major supplier of gas to
Europe and a key partner in the campaign against Islamist
militancy in North Africa.
With the backing of the ruling National Liberation Front
party or FLN, which has dominated Algerian politics since its
1962 independence, Bouteflika looks almost certain to win
another term in office even if he is not campaigning himself.
His supporters see Bouteflika as the guarantor of stability.
Algeria's 1990s war with Islamist fighters has left many wary of
the turmoil facing neighbours Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, after
they ousted leaders in the 2011 Arab Spring revolts.
But Bouteflika's long absences and questions over his health
have raised doubts about what will happen during his next five
years in power if he wins, and what happens if he can no longer
continue in office.
Opposition parties, which are boycotting the election,
dismiss Bouteflika's bid as a way to keep in power the old guard
of FLN party elites and army generals who they say have ruled
Algeria behind the scenes for decades and stifle any real
(Editing by Eric Walsh)