PARIS — On a sensitive and closely watched visit to Algeria, President Francois Hollande of France on Thursday acknowledged the ‘‘profoundly unjust and brutal’’ nature of France’s colonial rule, a statement seen in both countries as heralding a change of tone. But Hollande did not make an apology for France’s conduct, although Algeria has long pressed for one.
“I recognize here the suffering that colonialism inflicted on the Algerian people,’’ Hollande said in a speech before Parliament in Algiers.
His visit to Algeria, his first as president, comes shortly after the 50th anniversary of Algerian independence from France.
The visit was aimed at reviving economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries, French officials said; France remains Algeria’s primary trading partner. It also was intended to discuss with the Algerians what kind of intervention might take place in bordering Mali, where Islamic radicals have seized control in the northern part of the country.
Hollande arrived in Algiers on Wednesday with a delegation of about 200 people, including nine government ministers and executives from 40 French companies. On Wednesday, he announced a deal for French carmaker Renault to build an assembly plant near Oran and signed a joint statement with Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, calling for revived economic, strategic and cultural relations.
Algeria relies on its rich reserves of oil and natural gas for one-third of its economy, but the country is eager to diversify.
Hollande also hopes to ensure Algerian support for a multinational African military intervention in northern Mali. Algeria has been opposed to military action but is also aware of the threat of radical Islam and affiliates of Al Qaeda.