French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said during a visit to former colony Algeria that his country's colonial rule was "profoundly unjust".
Mr Sarkozy said colonial rule was contrary to the Republic
Mr Sarkozy was recently attacked by some in Algeria over his refusal to apologise for France's colonial past.
Mr Sarkozy said both France and Algeria should fight "all forms of racism".
France invaded Algeria in 1830. An eight-year war of independence in the 1950s and 1960s cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
Mr Sarkozy expects to finalise a series of big business deals during the visit.
In a speech to Algerian business leaders, Mr Sarkozy condemned colonialism.
"Yes, the colonial system was profoundly unjust, contrary to the three founding words of our Republic: freedom, equality, brotherhood," he said.
"But it's also fair to say that inside the system, there were many men and women who liked Algeria, before having to leave it."
He said numerous crimes had been committed on both sides during Algeria's independence war from 1954 to 1962.
It is Mr Sarkozy's third visit to Algiers in just over a year
"The moment has come to entrust Algerian and French historians with the task of writing this page of tormented history together," Mr Sarkozy said.
A minister in Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's government attacked Mr Sarkozy last week, saying he had been elected thanks to the "Jewish lobby", alluding to the Jewish origins of his maternal grandfather.
Mr Bouteflika later said those comments did not reflect the official position.
Mr Sarkozy said on Monday: "There is nothing that more closely resembles anti-Semitism than Islamophobia. Both have the same face: that of stupidity and hate."
He has concentrated on the increasing economic ties between the two countries, expressing the hope of signing contracts worth 5bn euros (£3.55bn).
The contracts include billion dollar investments in the Algerian oil and gas business by the French energy companies Total and Gaz de France.
France is already the biggest investor in Algeria outside the energy sector.