Saturday, May 22, 2010

KFOR to Halve Troop Numbers This Year

KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo
KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo
KFOR, NATO's Kosovo Force, has said it hopes to cut troop numbers from 10,000 to 5,000 by the end of the year.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed on Friday, during a visit to Kosovo, comments made the day before by NATO Supreme Allied Commander US Admiral James Stavridis about troop reductions.

“The security situation continues to improve. Yes, there are political complications and the occasional security incident but the general trend is steadily in the right direction,” Rasmussen told reporters, according to AFP.

NATO’s Kosovo force already slashed its numbers from 13,800 last year to 10,000 this January.

Rasmussen added in a statement: “We will stay as long as it takes to finish the job.

“But I also have to stress that even when KFOR completes its transition to deterred presence we will still have more than 2,000 troops on the ground and many more on call if needed.”

The NATO delegation met Kosovo’s leadership and discussed the issues facing Kosovo, including the importance of cooperation between the communities and relations with Belgrade.

Rasmussen and ambassadors travelled to the Decani Monastery and held an extensive discussion with Bishop Teodosije.

Rasmussen assured the bishop that security for cultural and religious sites remained a priority.

Earlier this year KFOR handed over security for Gazimestan, a tower marking the Battle of Kosovo just outside Pristina and an important site for Serbs, to Kosovo Police, despite protests from Belgrade.

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