Spanish Troops return to Hispaniola after 160 year absence.

A total of 200 Spanish marines left here on Friday for Haiti, where they will participate in peace-keeping and humanitarian assistance tasks for three months.

Amphibious assault vessel Castilla, with the marines aboard, departed from the Rota Naval Base, in southwest Spain, and is scheduled to arrive in the Caribbean country within 11 days.

Admiral Sebastian Zaragoza, chief of the Spanish navy, presided over the farewell ceremony of the contingent.

The admiral said the mission of the contingent will be concluded on Dec. 31, but he also indicated that the mission might be extended by an additional four-month period.

In addition to a crisis arising from the ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide last February, Haiti also faces a severe humanitarian crisis due to the tropical storm Jeanne.

A Moroccan group will join the Spanish contingent, and will be under the command of Spain's marines colonel Javier Hertfelder de Aldecoa.

[Source: Xinhua News Agency, China, 16Oct04]

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