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Albania: Troop Withdrawal Delayed By Bad Weather

Tirana, 18 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Rough seas and inclement weather delayed today's scheduled first-phase withdrawal of the Italian-led multinational force from Albania.

The force's spokesman, General Giovanni Brenardi, said nearly 400 Romanian soldiers and their armoured vehicles, along with some 260 Italian soldiers, had boarded a transport ship in the Northern port town of Durres. But Brenardi said the troops were forced to remain in harbour because of stormy weather.

The eight-nation force, first deployed in April to safeguard humanitarian aid shipments after Albania plunged into anarchy, is due to complete the withdrawal by August 18. It is unclear what, if any, foreign military presence will remain in the country.

Yesterday, the chief international mediator for Albania, Franz Vranitzky, called on the international community to maintain some sort of security force in Albania for an indefinite period, to ensure that chaos does not return.