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Reuters Kosovo Albanian Leaders Against Buffer Zone Cut

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  • Snezana Lazovic
    http://www.centraleurope.com/yugoslaviatoday/news.php3?id=300104§ion=Kosovo Kosovo Albanian Leaders Against Buffer Zone Cut PRISTINA, Mar 1, 2001 --
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2001
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      http://www.centraleurope.com/yugoslaviatoday/news.php3?id=300104§ion=Kosovo

      Kosovo Albanian Leaders Against Buffer Zone Cut

      PRISTINA, Mar 1, 2001 -- (Reuters) Kosovo Albanian political leaders said
      on Wednesday they opposed NATO's proposal to reduce the buffer zone with
      Serbia in which ethnic Albanian guerrillas operate.

      Kosovo Albanian political parties signed a declaration demanding a widening of
      the five kilometer (three mile) strip, Hashim Thaci, head of the Democratic Party
      of Kosovo and former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, said.

      In comments broadcast on television he said narrowing the zone could increase
      tension in Kosovo if it let the Yugoslav army come closer. His views were
      echoed by Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the moderate Democratic League of
      Kosovo.

      "We agreed that the safety ground should not to be reduced because it can
      endanger the safety of Kosovo and also NATO soldiers' lives," Rugova said,
      referring to the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

      NATO imposed the sanitary belt around Kosovo in June 1999 as a no-go area
      for almost all Serbian forces, but unintentionally created a safe haven for
      guerrillas in Serbia's Presevo Valley just east of Kosovo.

      NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels earlier this week said they were
      accelerating efforts to help Serbia peacefully regain control of the Presevo
      Valley, scene of repeated clashes between guerrillas and police.

      The allies were "prepared to implement a phased and conditioned reduction of
      the Ground Safety Zone" but they were "still working on the details of how this
      will be done", NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said on Tuesday.

      He said on Wednesday that Serbia must pull back troops before NATO starts
      ceding control of the buffer zone.

      "We will move as quickly as we possibly can but we will also do it with
      prudence and with care because this is a dangerous situation and we don't
      intend to make it worse," Robertson said in Brussels.
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