Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nato sends fresh forces to Kosovo amid trade row

PRISTINA: Nato began to deploy fresh forces to Kosovo yesterday as prime minister Hashim Thaci accused Belgrade of encouraging the territory's Serb minority to oppose Pristina in a bitter trade row.

A top US commander in the Nato peacekeeping force also alleged hardliners were forcing Kosovo Serbs to mount blockades as part of the dispute with the ethnic Albanian-dominated Pristina government.

Serbian officials "are inspiring those who block the roads by being among them or leading them. They are followed and protected by armed paramilitary forces," Thaci told his cabinet.

"This time it is definitively confirmed that the government of Belgrade is behind the illegal actions of traffickers, paramilitaries and the parallel structures" in Kosovo's majority Serb north, he charged.

In an effort to ease tensions, Nato has started deploying fresh forces to Kosovo, with the first plane of additional troops landing at Pristina airport last afternoon, a photograper said.

Nato said on Tuesday it had asked for an extra battalion to be deployed.

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