More Than 700 Americans Rescued From Albania - WASHINGTON (AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 700 Americans have been evacuated from embattled Albania, completing the rescue of all U.S. citizens who wante...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 700 Americans have been evacuated from embattled Albania, completing the rescue of all U.S. citizens who wanted to leave and were able to make their way to the capital city of Tirana, the State Department said Saturday.
The U.S. rescue operation is now focused on bringing out non-Americans on a space-available basis. A total of 319 people were evacuated on Saturday.

Spokesman Nicholas Burns described the situation in Tirana as quieter, with police returning to their jobs and an overnight curfew observed for the most part.

Albanian policemen carry the body of a slain comrade through the streets of Durres

The European country has plagued by weeks of violence sparked by the collapse of pyramid investment schemes in which nearly every Albanian family lost money.

The United States is willing to consider a proposal by European envoy Franz Vranitzky for a "stabilization force," but a senior U.S. official said it was not clear what the former Austrian chancellor had in mind and whether it was a military intervention.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it would be very difficult to intervene in Albania both because of the chaos and the weakness of the national government.

The United States was not demanding the resignation of Albanian President Sali Berisha "but we think his credibility is quite low," the official said.

"We have not made any kind of decision to use force to go in or to say we are going to occupy the country," he said. "That doesn't make sense."

The Albanian government asked for an international force, saying it was unable to restore order on its own, according to Vranitzky, whose efforts the United States backs in general.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said Albania's Premier Bashkim Fino asked for a force of "thousands of men."

In Apeldourn, the Netherlands, the European Union splintered over the proposal.

Meanwhile, President Clinton on Saturday formally notified House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott by letter of the use of U.S. military forces in the evacuation effort.

Clinton said that while there was no evidence that Americans were being directly targeted, "the disorder and violence ... subjected American citizens and property to risks ranging from criminal acts to random violence."

He said although the U.S. forces were equipped for combat, they were there only to protect U.S. citizens and property, including the U.S. Embassy.

Approximately 2,000 Marines stationed off the Albanian coast and as many sailors were part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit conducting the evacuation.

Nearly 170 Marines were sent into the U.S. Embassy in Tirana and a compound where diplomats live.



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