Nicolas Sarkozy has begun his first visit to Algeria on his maiden tour outside Europe since his May election. The French President arrived in Algiers yesterday seeking to boost energy and military ties.

He had a working lunch with Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the Algerian president, and supper with Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, before returning to France today. “We’ve decided on an ambitious road map,” Sarkozy told Algerian newspapers, referring to proposals on trade, investment, energy, and security with the gas-exporting nation.

Sarkozy said French energy firms should have closer ties to Algerian oil and gas giant Sonatrach.

“We need to secure our gas supplies for the future, while Algeria can count on guaranteed and certain access to the French market and beyond to the European market,” he said.