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US to Help Albania Destroy Recently Discovered Chemical Weapons

The United States says it will spend $20 million to help Albania destroy a recently discovered stockpile of chemical weapons.

U.S. officials will send a portable chemical weapons incinerator to storage bunkers in Albania and plan to destroy the agents by 2007.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Adam Ereli, Monday commended Albania for helping ensure the chemicals are secured and destroyed as soon as possible.

The Washington Post newspaper says former Albanian Marxist dictator Enver Hoxha acquired about 16 tons of chemical weapons in the mid-1970s, possibly from China, to defend the country against a feared Soviet or U.S. invasion.

Albanian authorities apparently forgot about the chemicals when Mr. Hoxha died in 1985. The government discovered the stockpile in underground bunkers last year and informed the United States and and United Nations.