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17 April, 1997
The first company of Greek troops participating in the multinational peace force in Albania landed at Tirana's airport yesterday without any problems.
The first C-130 transport plane carrying Greek troops landed at 1:10 p.m. local time, with four more planes landing. The flights transported a total of 126 troops, supplies, military vehicles and weaponry. A short time later, the first Turkish troops landed at Tirana airport.
The first company of Greek troops immediately set out for two military bases on the city's western edge, where the main body of the Greek contingent will be stationed, with the exception of a company of troops to be stationed in Vlore.
The Greek embassy's military attache in Tirana, Col. Alexandros Xiros, said the operation was successful, with all details of the operation executed as planned.
According to the central command of the multinational force, the transport and deployment of the Greek contingent will have ended by April 22.
The first wave of Greek troops had departed from Thessaloniki airport shortly after noon yesterday.
They were seen off by National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and the armed forces' chiefs of staff.
In a related development, the landing craft the "Samos" left Thessaloniki later for Albania at 1:40 p.m. with a further 120 troops. Earlier, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and the Chief of the National Defense General Staff, Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis, inspected the troops.
In addition to the troops, the "Samos" is also carrying 17 armored personnel carriers, 23 jeeps - three of which are armor-plated and ultra-modern telecommunications equipment.
Source: Athens News Agency