(Adds further quotes, background)
ALGIERS Dec 20 President Francois Hollande
acknowledged on Thursday France's colonisation of Algeria had
been "brutal and unfair" but he stopped short of an apology to
the oil-rich North African state that Paris sees as a major
"For 132 years, Algeria was subjected to a brutal and unfair
system: colonisation. I acknowledge the suffering it caused,"
Hollande told the Algerian parliament on the second day of a
visit aimed at improving diplomatic and economic relations.
"We respect the act of memory, of all the memories. There is
a duty of truth on the violence, the injustices, the massacres
and the torture," he said of the 1954-1962 Algerian war which
ended in Algerian independence and France's withdrawal.
The speech came a day after Hollande was greeted by
thousands of cheering Algerians on arrival in the capital
Algiers. He called for an equal partnership between the two
states but said he had not come "to repent or apologise".
His conservative predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, had sought to
review preferential visa arrangements from which thousands of
Algerians benefit each year. But the Socialist Hollande said he
wanted to make it easier for Algerians and French to travel
between the two countries.
Around 700,000 Algerians live in France, which has Europe's
largest Muslim population, and French authorities issue some
200,000 visas to Algerians each year.
(Reporting By Julien Ponthus and John Irish in Paris; Editing
by Mark John, Brian Love and Mark Heinrich)