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Albania: More Than 100 Italian Advance Troops Arrive

Tirana, 11 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- More than 100 Italian soldiers landed in Albania today to prepare a bridgehead for a 6,000-strong multi-national force scheduled to arrive in the country next week.

About 20 Italian soldiers with machine guns and five military vehicles disembarked from Italian navy ships at the Albanian port of Durress this morning. About 100 paratroopers also arrived at Tirana airport today by plane.

The soldiers are the advance guard of an Italian-led force that will safeguard humanitarian aid deliveries to Albania. The majority of the international force is to begin deploying in Albania on Monday.

A French Defense Ministry spokesman said 400 French soldiers left for Albania today on two ships from the southern French port of Toulon. Austria said it would send troops later this month. Greece, Turkey, Romania and Denmark also are contributing soldiers.