Sunday, November 19, 2000

New NATO role sought in Bosnia

Anniversary of accords is marked in Dayton

By James Hannah
The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — Five years after the Dayton Peace Accords ended the war in Bosnia, the future of NATO peacekeeping troops in Kosovo took center stage at an international conference to mark the anniversary of the agreement.

        The head of Kosovo's majority party said NATO troops should remain indefinitely to protect against external threats.

        Speaking at a news conference during the forum attended by Balkan leaders and U.S. diplomats, Ibrahim Rugova said a long-term NATO presence in Kosovo is cru cial to the stability of the region.

        “We urge for those forces to stay there maybe forever,” the moderate ethnic Albanian leader said. “In the future it may have a different role, a presence in the region with bases in Kosovo. I consider the presence of NATO there as part of our independence.”

        The NATO issue was among policy recommendations for the new U.S. administration issued at the end of the conference by a group of international experts.

        The panel summarized discussions that took place during two days of closed-door meetings at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

        The group recommended that NATO peacekeepers remain in Bosnia and Kosovo to ensure security, but it said their presence could continue to be reduced.

        It also recommended that the international community begin a process for the self-government of Kosovo, and said the people of the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro should be entitled to determine their own fate.

        The panel said former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic should be extradited to the United Nations war-crimes tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, and that war-crime suspects Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic should be arrested.

        James Pardew, U.S. secretary of state for democracy in the Balkans, wouldn't say which recommendations the Clinton administration would endorse.

        “But we can support much of what's in here,” he said.


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