Pentagon chief heads to Algeria for North Africa security talks

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper heads to Algeria Thursday to bolster ties, as the North African nation tries to mediate in war-ravaged Libya and Mali while battling extremists at home.

Esper, the first defense secretary to visit Algiers in almost 15 years, hopes "to deepen cooperation with Algeria on key regional security issues, such as the threat posed by extremist groups," a senior US military official said.

Esper, due in the country as part of a North Africa tour, will...