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Bush OKs supplying arms to Kosovo

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080319/pl_afp/uskosovodefensearmsrussiaserbia Bush OKs supplying arms to Kosovo Wed Mar 19, 5:59 PM ET WASHINGTON (AFP) -
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 19, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080319/pl_afp/uskosovodefensearmsrussiaserbia

      Bush OKs supplying arms to Kosovo

      Wed Mar 19, 5:59 PM ET

      WASHINGTON (AFP) - President George W. Bush authorized
      Wednesday supplying Kosovo with weapons, signaling the
      establishment of government-to-government relations
      after recognizing its independence, the White House
      said.

      In a memo to the State Department made public by the
      White House, Bush said: "I hereby find that the
      furnishing of defense articles and defense services to
      Kosovo will strengthen the security of the United
      States and promote world peace."

      A senior official said the authorization followed US
      recognition of Kosovo's independence and was part of
      the normal process of establishing relations with a
      new government.

      In a comment apparently meant to allay concerns from
      Serbia and its ally Russia, the official stressed the
      military restrictions imposed on Kosovo under a plan
      by former UN special envoy for Kosovo Martti
      Ahtisaari.

      Under the Ahtisaari plan, which is the basis for
      Kosovo's supervised independence, Kosovo is allowed a
      lightly armed 2,500-person security force under NATO
      oversight and training.

      Kosovo, an Albanian-dominated Serbian province under
      UN administration since 1999, unilaterally declared
      its independence on February 17. The United States
      recognized it on March 18, despite strong opposition
      from Serbia and Russia.

      The US official, who asked not to be identified, said
      the US weapons deliveries were preparing the ground
      for the future, adding that the United States had
      struck similar relations with other countries in the
      region.

      Furthermore, the official said, provisions of defense
      equipment and services would be considered on a
      case-by-case basis.

      The official said that providing military equipment to
      Kosovo would improve security relations and engagement
      with Kosovo, promote security and stability throughout
      the Balkans, improve Kosovo's capacity to take part in
      peacekeeping activities, to detect, deter and defeat
      terrorists, and to deal with humanitarian emergencies.
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