Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Senior U.S. defense official visits Kosovo

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - A senior U.S. defense official arrives in Kosovo Wednesday for meetings with the disputed province's international administrators and its government.

Mira Ricardel, acting U.S. assistant secretary for defense, is to meet with the top U.N. official in the province, Soren Jessen-Petersen and with the province's Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations and patrolled by NATO-led peacekeepers since June 1999 following the alliance's bombing campaign aimed at stopping Serb forces' crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

There are some 1,700 U.S. troops serving with the 17,000 strong NATO-led peacekeeping force in this U.N.-run province. The alliance said earlier it will streamline its force as the time nears to solve the disputed status of the province.

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