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24 August, 1998
A weeklong NATO exercise in Albania, bordering the troubled Kosovo region, ended on Saturday.
Taking part in the exercise, code-named "Cooperative Assembly '98", were 14 nations including Greece, as well as observers from six countries, among them Russia.
The exercise, which began last Monday, was part of the NATO-sponsored "Partnership for Peace" programme.
According to the alliance, the exercise was aimed at demonstrating to Yugoslav leadership that NATO was ready to intervene at any time in the region, especially if tension escalated in Kosovo.
Greece took part with a C-130 transport plane, two F-16 jetfighters, two helicopters and a company of paratroopers. Greece also sent a medical unit to the exercise, which treated the residents of remote villages in the mountain range where the exercise was held. Among the services offered was dental treatment for dozens of young children, who saw a dentist for the first time.
The exercise was under the direction of NATO commander (southern wing) Adm. T. Joseph Lopez.
Adm. Lopez stressed that the exercise, as all Partnership for Peace manoeuvres, aimed at regional stability and was not directed against any party in Kosovo or Belgrade.
The exercise was scaled down when the US reduced its contingent by 70 per cent following the Aug. 7 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, where least 257 people were killed. Washington cited the risk of terrorist attacks against US targets in Albania.
The exercise included search and rescue operations, close air support, medical evacuation, air-drop procedures, and infantry peace support operations.
Source: Athens News Agency