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US, EU Back Albania’s Regional Center to Fight Radicalism

  • Ilir Ikonomi

Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, April 14, 2016.

Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, April 14, 2016.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said Thursday that preparations were underway in his country to set up a regional center for the fight against radicalism.

In comments made immediately following a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, Rama said his government had the backing of the United States and the European Union in this undertaking.

He said Albania was also striving to promote religious coexistence among youth. Young people, he said, should not take religious coexistence for granted; they need to invest in it.

Rama said he was also meeting with FBI officials to ask for technical support in improving Albania’s justice system. The changes include the creation of an anti-corruption court and a prosecutor's office as well as a national investigative body similar to the FBI. The United States has provided $20 million in assistance to support the reforms, and $5 million more is budgeted this year.

During his visit, Rama praised the United States for its strong support of Albania since the collapse of communism in the early 1990s.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009, enjoys a strategic partnership with the United States.

The Balkan nation has been helping relocate thousands of members of the exiled Iranian Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group. Over the past year and a half, Albania has taken in about 1,000 members of the group and has committed to taking 2,000 more.

During his weeklong visit, the Albanian prime minister has drawn attention with comments strongly critical of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying Americans should not vote for him.

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