27 March 2006

No moves for further downsizing of Kosovo force: NATO official



Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)

Date: 22 Feb 2006


No moves for further downsizing of Kosovo force: NATO official


Pristina_(dpa) _ There was no formal request for the downsizing of the NATO-led peacekeeping presence from any of the countries contributing to the force, a top NATO official said Wednesday in Pristina.


"There is no proposal by any nation to reduce the troops of KFOR," James Pardew, a US diplomat serving in the NATO secretary general's office, told reporters.


Earlier this month, the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he wanted to reduce the number of US troops in Kosovo and to have NATO allies assume more responsibility in the province.


Presently, some 16,000 troops from around two dozen countries, including 1,600 US soldiers, serve in Kosovo, Serbia's breakaway province that was the scene of a bloody ethnic conflict in 1999.


The initial presence, immediately after NATO ousted Serbian security forces from Kosovo and paved the way for a United Nations administration, numbered around 50,000.


Both the UN administration and Kosovo politicians appealed against further cuts into KFOR manpower.


Kosovo and Serbia this week launched direct talks on the future status of the province. The majority Albanians want independence, but Belgrade only offers a broad autonomy.