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Albania: OSCE Envoy Arrives To Ease Tensions

Tirana, 7 May 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The top envoy to Albania from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has arrived in Tirana for talks aimed at easing tensions between the rival political parties in Albania's interim government.

Franz Vranitzky is due to meet with Albania's Prime Minister Bakshim Fino today and President Sali Berisha tomorrow.

Berisha's Democratic Party is at odds with opposition parties over how the distribution of parliamentary seats should be decided in elections due June 29. They also are divided on how to deal with the insurgent committees that control much of southern Albania.

Italian Defence Minister Beniamino Andreatta said in Rome today that the Italian-led international force in Albania should be withdrawn if the parties break their current agreement to hold the elections by the end of June. The force is mandated by the UN to safeguard the delivery of humanitarian aid to Albania.

In the southern Albanian town of Vlore today, gunmen fired on a car with automatic weapons killing three people. The motive for the attack is unknown. Vlore and other major towns in the south of Albania remain outside government control after riots earlier this year over the collapse of fraudulent savings schemes which cost many people their savings.