TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania's political parties reached a compromise early Thursday on next month's parliamentary election following intensive talks mediated by a senior U.S. official.
After a three-hour meeting that ended at dawn, Prime Minister Edi Rama of the governing Socialist Party and Lulzim Basha of the main opposition Democratic Party told reporters they had reached a deal, but they did not provide any particulars.
Basha said the agreement would be "detailed in the next 24 hours."
Both leaders left the Palace of Congresses without briefing waiting reporters. Rama, Basha and their technical staffs were meeting later Thursday to draft the deal. Many in Albanian politics think the move will likely result in the postponement of the June 18 parliamentary election.
Previous efforts by European and U.S. officials had failed to convince the Democrats to change their position that they would not take part in the election, fearing that Rama's Cabinet would manipulate the vote.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Brian Yee gave them a proposal Monday from European lawmakers and another from Rama as a basis for negotiations. U.S. Ambassador to Tirana Donald Lu was seen Wednesday going from Basha to Rama.
In a post on the embassy's Facebook page, Lu hailed the two political leaders, the diplomats involved in the mediation and the "Albanian people for their patience and their belief in the strength of Albania's democracy."
"We eagerly look forward to an election with the participation of all of Albania's political parties," he said.
Two German lawmakers who wrote the compromise proposal, David McAllister and Knut Fleckenstein of the center-right and left-wing groupings at the European Parliament, said they were "delighted that the EU and US mediation to end the political crisis in ALB has been successful."
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is to monitor Albania's election, also hailed the agreement.
The opposition has boycotted parliament since February, blocking the launch of judicial reforms, and refused to register for the election.
This story has been corrected to fix the length of time for drafting to 24 hours, not 234 hours