NATO Deploys Additional Troops in Kosovo

Posted August 3rd, 2011 at 4:50 pm (UTC-5)
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NATO has begun deploying additional forces to Kosovo where ethnic Serbs continue to block roads at border crossings with Serbia in retaliation for a government ban on Serbian imports.

The first plane with fresh troops landed at Pristina airport Wednesday. The commander of NATO forces in Kosovo, Erhard Buehler, asked for additional 700 troops to help restore order in northern Kosovo.

Tensions in the region are easing after 10 days of turmoil sparked by an attempt by Kosovo's security forces to seize control of two border crossings with Serbia to enforce the ban. The international troops stepped in after one of the border crossings was set on fire and one ethnic Albanian police officer was killed in the ensuing clashes.

Also Wednesday, NATO troops guarding the border permitted entry to Serbian trucks carrying medical aid for the residents of northern Kosovo.

Meanwhile, Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci criticized Belgrade for giving support to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo who refuse to recognize the government in Pristina.

Mr. Thaci has said that his government will not give up on its drive to take control in northern Kosovo, where ethnic Serbs are a majority. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders declared independence from Serbia in 2008, against strong Serbian opposition.

More than 70 nations including the United States and most European Union members have recognized the Balkan state. But many, including China and Russia have not and are blocking Kosovo's joining the United Nations.