Monday, July 04, 2005

US Ex-Secretary Of State Albright In Kosovo For 3-Day Visit

RISTINA (AP)--Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived on a three-day visit to Kosovo Monday and urged its people to respect the rights of Serbs and other minorities.

Albright was greeted at the province's main airport by Kosovo's President Ibrahim Rugova and Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi.

This is her first trip to the disputed U.N.-administered province since 1999, when a North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led air war stopped a crackdown by Serb forces of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on ethnic Albanian separatists.

She called on the people in the province to support the democratic process and do more to protect Serbs and other minorities, which have been the target of attacks by ethnic Albanian extremists since the end of the war.

Albright came in her capacity as chairwoman of the board of the Washington- based National Democratic Institute and will meet with local and international officials, a statement from the institute said.

"I have from the very beginning understood the dream of the people of Kosovo and I have myself worked to try to make this dream come true," she said upon arrival.

Albright is considered a hero by the province's ethnic Albanians who want the province to become independent. She is reviled by many Serbs for her role during the bombing campaign.

Kosovo has been administered by the U.N. and patrolled by NATO since the end of the war.

Talks to determine its future status will take place later this year if Kosovo reaches standards on democracy, minority rights and rule of law.

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