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Latvia: Joint Minesweeping Operation With Germany Begins

Riga, 30 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Latvia and Germany today will launch a joint exercise to search and destroy naval mines in the Gulf of Riga -- the first such operation of its kind.

The minesweeps will be carried out by seven German ships and four Latvian ships guided by a helicopter, the Latvian Defense Ministry told the Interfax news agency yesterday.

The German ships will seek and destroy mines, while the Latvian military will carry out organization and planning activities. The operation, which ends in a week, is aimed at clearing mines left from World War II.

In a related development, NATO yesterday announced its first Partnership for Peace (PFP) exercise in Germany, which will be held near Muenster September 8 to 13. The military alliance said some 750 troops from 18 countries will participate.

Named "Cooperative Lantern 96", it is intended as an exercise in multi-national command procedures in support of peacekeeping operations. Participants will include soldiers from Romania, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Britain, the three Baltic nations, Hungary, and the United States -- among others.