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ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria on Sunday summoned Tunisia's ambassador in Algiers a few days after a Tunisian minister described Algeria as a communist state, state news agency APS said.

The North African neighbours usually have strong security and economic ties with Algeria coordinating with Tunisia to combat Islamist militancy in the region.

"Tunisia's ambassador has been received today at the ministry of foreign affairs where he has been asked to provide clarifications about remarks made by a Tunisian minister," the ministry said in a statement on APS.

Tunisia's minister for local affairs made a comment that Algeria is a communist state, in a conference in Rome on May. 4 when describing Tunisia's neighbours.

OPEC member Algeria still has a mostly state-run economy but has emerged from the one-party socialism that followed its 1962 independence from France.

Observers downplayed any diplomatic crisis insisting that ties between the two countries are strong. Tunisia's Ennahda party also condemned the minister's comments, according to Tunisian media.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; editing by Patrick Markey and Richard Lough)

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