Western Diplomats, Serbian Officials Discuss Rebels in South Serbia

Published December 22nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Serbian officials and Western diplomats met Friday in southern Serbian to express concern about security in the region, where ethnic Albanian guerrillas are holding out against police. 

"The situation is clearly serious and we share with the Serbian government concern at the continuing violent activities of armed extremist groups in the area," British charge d'affairs David Landsman said. 

Tension has soared in the area in recent weeks amid increasing activity by ethnic Albanian gunmen demanding that the predominantly Albanian region be united with the the breakaway province of Kosovo. 

"We welcome the constructive attitude the Yugoslav authorities have taken in wanting very actively to solve problem in a political way," he added. 

US ambassador to Yugoslavia William Montgomery said Washington was "very pleased that the Yugoslav government realized that this situation must be solved peacefully and with negotiations and with respect for Resolution 1244" of the UN Security Council which put Kosovo under UN administration. 

Serbian deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic said the Yugoslav authorities enjoyed "excellent cooperation" with the NATO-led KFOR troops deployed in the province. 

Covic said KFOR was doing a lot to restrict the actions of Albanian guerillas, but asserted that "more can be done". 

The five kilometer (three mile) wide demilitarized buffer zone along the Serbian side of the boundary between Serbia and Kosovo was set up following the end of the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. 

But guerrillas of the self-styled Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac have taken control of several villages within the zone and chased Serbian out local police, the only forces allowed into the border strip. 

On Wednesday the UN Security Council demanded the withdrawal of Albanian extremist groups from southern Serbia -- BUJANOVAC (AFP)  



© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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