US marines to exercise in Croatia during YU elections

WASHINGTON, Sep 8, 2000 -- (AFP) A contingent of about 300 U.S. Marines will deploy to Croatia for a joint amphibious exercise this month that will coincide with elections in neighboring Yugoslavia, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said the weeklong exercise, which begins before the September 24 vote and ends afterwards, was long planned and not connected to the balloting in Yugoslavia.

He said it was part of an effort to help Croatia -- a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace -- modernize and reform its military.

The exercise "involves a combination of a port visit and some amphibious exercising along the coast of Croatia," he said.

About 300 Marines are supposed to take part in the amphibious exercise while a U.S. Navy ship makes a port call at Dubrovnik, he said.

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