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Italy, in an apparent change of heart Wednesday, gave up attempts to expel 500 desperate Albanian refugees from the southeastern port of Bari and said they could stay in the country.The 500 would be sent to existing refugee camps in the north, national police chief Vincenzo Parisi told reporters. The refugees were the remaining hard core of 17,000 who landed in Bari last Thursday in an attempt to escape economic hardship in Europe's poorest country. All the rest have been sent back. Holed up in squalid conditions at an old soccer stadium and on board a freighter, they had vowed to resist attempts to move them and some were thought to be armed. Italian authorities had displayed a markedly harder attitude toward the latest wave of refugees than toward the 25,000 who landed in nearby Brindisi last March, most of whom are in makeshift camps scattered throughout the country. Italy has pledged to cover Albania's basic food needs from September until the end of November. The latest Italian food aid is worth some $85 million and dwarfs the $2.3 million the European Community has given. Italy is pressing hard for the Albanian refugees to be recognized as a Community-wide responsibility and has poured scorn on EC efforts so far.

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