NATO asks more troops for Kosovo
02 August 2011, 18:51 CET
(PRISTINA) - NATO said Tuesday it asked for more troop in Kosovo days after a trade row with Serbia sparked deadly violence, an apparent signal that it will not allow the situation to deteriorate.
NATO spokesman Hans Dieter Wichter told AFP that the KFOR mission in the territory had asked for one extra battalion.
A battalion is usually around 500 soldiers and a German military spokesman told AFP in Berlin that the troops would be sent from Germany and Austria.
Wichter explained the additional troops were needed to boost the operational reserve of the more than 5,900 KFOR soldiers currently in Kosovo as "all of them are currently deployed".
In Pristina, where EU mediator Robert Cooper was meeting prime minister Hashim Thaci to discuss the crisis, NATO's move was seen as a signal that NATO is keen to see the trade row resolved peacefully.
"I think it is a message to Serb extremists that NATO is resolute in maintaining the situation and that no one can impose any solution by violence," Ardian Collaku, a political commentator for the Zeri daily, told AFP.
"NATO is buying time and creating room for a political solution for the north through talks at the political level," he added.
EU mediator Cooper brokered talks between the two sides that kicked off in March aimed at smoothing friction and ending day to day headaches faced by ordinary people stemming from Belgrade's non recognition of Kosovo's break-away.
According to independent Kosovar analyst Naim Gashi the current crisis in the north makes that the number one issue to be solved in the talks.
"The latest development ... imposed North Kosovo as the priority. There is no sense in talking about technical issues while the north is reaching boiling point," he said.
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