PRISTINA, Kosovo -- US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday (October 7th) that US troops will remain in Kosovo at least until the end of 2009. Gates, who is making a daylong visit to Pristina, confirmed Washington's support for the young country. He is the most senior US official to visit since Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on February 17th.
Gates met with Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. Sejdiu thanked the US for their continuous support and expressed his personal gratitude to Gates for his efforts. Gates said the discussions were productive, and he reaffirmed the US' commitment to all citizens of Kosovo.
Gates was also to meet with the 1,600 US soldiers serving in Kosovo. Later in the day, Gates will travel to Ohrid, Macedonia, to attend a two-day meeting of fellow defence ministers from Southeast Europe. (AP, Reuters, ITAR-TASS AFP - 07/10/08)