Durres, Albania; 18 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Several hundred Italian, French and Greek soldiers today arrived in the Albanian port city of Durres as part of a multinational protection force which is safeguarding aid to Albania.
A French officer, Colonel Philippe Roisin, said everything went smoothly and the soldiers were well-received by the local population.
Colonel Gianfranco Scalas, spokesman for the Italian contingent, said 1,500 soldiers are now in Albania. The rest of the 6,000-member force is expected to arrive over the next three weeks.
In Tirana, Albania's King Leka is scheduled to meet President Sali Berisha later today. Guri Durollari, the leader of the royalist Legality Movement said it will be a historic meeting.
King Leka considers himself a unifying factor in a country that has been shattered by violence and lawlessness since dubious financial schemes collapsed earlier this year.
Rebels, who control much of the south, have demanded Berisha's resignation. Berisha agreed to hold early general elections by the end of June. He says rebel committees who control southern towns must dissolve before the elections are held, however.