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Albania votes in election seen as key to EU talks

Albanians have started to cast ballots in a general election that follows a landmark agreement between the two biggest parties to further efforts for the country to eventually join the European Union.

Holding free and fair elections is key to launching EU membership talks. The country of 2.9 million has been a Nato member since 2009.

Eighteen political parties are running for 140 seats in parliament in Sunday's vote.

The main contenders are parties led by Socialist prime minister Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha of the opposition Democratic Party.

All main parties campaigned on a reform agenda, pledging faster economic growth, pay hikes and lower unemployment, which stands at about 14%.

AP

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