Paris, 7 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Troops from several Western European nations are preparing to leave for Albania to join a multi-national force being set up to guard aid to that country. However, Italy -- which is supposed to lead the force -- is still bogged down in political wrangling over whether to take part.
The French defense ministry said today in Paris that a 1,000-strong military contingent departs the Mediterranean port of Toulon by ship for Albania tomorrow. The Spanish Defense Ministry said 300 troops leave on Wednesday.
In Rome, parliament is set to approve Italian participation by mid-week. But the hard-line Communist Refoundation says it might not support its coalition partners in the government because the mission resembles military intervention.
Today, Fabio Mussi, the leader of the Democratic Party of the Left -- the former main communist party and also a coalition member -- called on the Refoundation to clarify its position. Mussi said a government crisis must be avoided.
Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi welcomed a call from U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan for the rapid deployment of the multi-national force. Prodi said this means there is no longer a reason for anyone to vote against the mission.