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Cameron speech pushed back due to Algeria violence
January 18, 2013, 9:10 am


A satellite image shows the Amenas Gas Field in Algeria where hostages are being held by al-Qaida-linked militants. [AP]

A UK government spokesperson has announced that Prime Minister David Cameron has postponed a pivotal Europe policy speech due to the deteriorating hostage situation in Algeria.

Algerian forces on Thursday launched an operation to free hostages, including dozens of foreigners, held by Mali-based Al-Qaeda affiliated militants at the Amenas desert gas plant near the Libyan border.

Media reports revealed that many of the hostages, including an undisclosed number of Britons, were killed in the raid.

“I think we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility of bad news ahead,” Cameron told the BBC late Thursday.

It was unclear when Cameron would now deliver his policy speech, which was to outline his plans to thoroughly re-examine and then renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU.

This was expected to be followed by a referendum (after 2015), which could remodel the UK’s position in European and global affairs.

Cameron’s Europe policy had come under severe criticism from pundits both in the UK and beyond. Many said that Cameron’s anticipated policy changes were ill-advised and came at the wrong time, just when Europe was beginning to resurface from punishing austerity measures and recession.

Cameron’s own economic adviser Lord Heseltine has said the prime minister’s approach could contribute to unemployment while deterring European investment in Britain.

In an interview with the BBC last week, Cameron said that he would not want to leave the EU but he also believed that Britain would not collapse if it did.

“The question is what is in our national interest: and I’ve always been very clear it’s in our national interest as a trading nation to be in the single market, but not like Norway just accept all the rules of the single market, pay for the privilege of being part of it, and, as it were, be governed by fax from Brussels,” Cameron told the BBC.

With input from Agencies

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