COPENHAGEN, Nov 12 (AFP) -
The continued presence of the United States in Kosovo is "vital" to ensuring stability and determining the final status of the region, Kai Eide, the United Nations Secretary General's special envoy to Kosovo, said on Saturday.
In an address to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly being held in Copenhagen, Eide presented a report on the fragile situation in the province, calling for the US to remain involved.
"To the US delegate in this assembly, I want to say the US must continue to be engaged in Kosovo as long as necessary," he said.
"A United States contribution to the Kosovo Force (KFOR) is essential in order to provide a visible expression of continued engagement," he said.
The international KFOR force has been responsible for establishing and maintaining security in Kosovo ever since the UN and NATO took over control of the region in June 1999.
The move followed a NATO air war against Yugoslavia that forced then president Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his troops from the Albanian-dominated province.
Tensions have remained high with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders eager for talks leading to independence, while Belgrade and the Kosovo Serbs want the territory to remain part of Serbia and Montenegro.
On Saturday, Eide emphasized the importance of a continued NATO presence in the province.
"Nato will also have to continue its presence. No other organization can currently provide the same basis of stability," he said.