ALGIERS, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and Mauritanian Prime Minister Moulay Ould Mohamed Laghdhaf arrived in Algeria Friday morning to attend the funeral of Algeria's first president Ahmed Ben Bella, local APS news agency reported.
Marzouki told reporters that he came "to extend the heartfelt condolences of the Tunisian people to the Algerian people," adding that the death of Ben Bella "is a loss to the Maghreb and the Arab region."
Marzouki further hailed the bilateral relations between the two countries, saying that "the two nations are working to build the Arab Maghreb Union, of which late Ben Bella had been a staunch defender."
For his part, the Mauritanian prime minister said the death of Ben Bella "is a loss to Algeria, as well as to the Arab and Muslim world" regarding his historic role in the liberation of his country and his fight for the sake of the Maghreb and Arab union.
Ben Bella, who was elected in 1963 as Algeria's first president since its independence, passed away Wednesday at the age of 96 due to long-time illness.
An eight-day mourning has been declared by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.