Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, March 19, 2004

NATO adds troops in Kosovo amid ethnic violence

Ethnic clashes in Kosovo claimed at least 31 people and thousands of Serbs demonstrated Thursday evening throughout Serbia in protest of the violence in Kosovo.


Ethnic clashes in Kosovo claimed at least 31 people and thousands of Serbs demonstrated Thursday evening throughout Serbia in protest of the violence in Kosovo.

In face of continued violence in the region, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decided to send more troops to Kosovo and the international community called for an end to the clashes.

On Thursday, NATO said it was sending extra troops from Bosnia to the Serbian province of Kosovo to quench the latest wave of ethnic violence.

A NATO spokesman said a US company of 100 to 150 troops was already on its way to Kosovo and two other companies were ready togo.

The British Ministry of Defense confirmed Thursday that it would send an extra 750 troops to Kosovo after NATO requested moretroops for peacekeeping in the region.

A spearhead battalion from the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshireand Wiltshire Regiment would leave within four days for Kosovo to beef up the NATO peacekeeping force there, a spokeswoman for the ministry told reporters.

EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana Thursday called upon Kosovo leaders to act immediately to stop violence in the region, saying in a written statement that "I urged all political leaders in Kosovo to show responsibility in ensuring that any threats or acts of violence be stopped at once, and culprits brought to justice."

The Serbia-Motnenegro army said Thursday it has raised the level of combat readiness. "With the aim of preventing a possible deterioration of the situation and a further escalation of violence, the combat alert has been raised in part of Army units,"the General Staff of Serbia-Montenegro army said in a statement.

Russia Thursday called on the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency meeting on the latest outbreak of inter-ethnic violence in the UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo.

"Russia supports the initiative of Serbia and Montenegro to have an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on Kosovo," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko, adding that "Russia is ready to take an active part in finding a solution to the Kosovo problem."

The government of Bosnia-Herzegovnia Thursday called for an endto violence in Kosovo, and expressed concern over the tragic incidents in the neighboring country of Serbia and Montenegro.

Cyprus Foreign Ministry Thursday strongly condemned the incidents of violence that occurred in the town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. An official statement issued by the ministry said Cyprus expresses its sorrow and dismay over the eruption of violence between Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, which also spread to other areas of the UN administered province.

It "strongly condemns the incidents of violence, and calls on all parties to restore immediate stability and security."

The statement calls for return to peaceful dialogue, within the framework of UNSC Resolution 1244, which aims to ensure a stable and secure future for Kosovo, as well as the whole region.

The Greek government stressed Thursday that the full implementation of UN resolution 1244 is essential for peace in Kosovo.

"Greece believes that the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1244 constitutes an essential precondition to safeguard peace, stability and democracy in Kosovo," Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in a press release.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Thursday that all sides in Kosovo should act with restraint to prevent the recent acts of violence from threatening regional stability and security, and it is important that all communities in Kosovo should refrain from acts that would damage the atmosphere of compromise and mutual tolerance.

Source: Xinhua

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