BUDAPEST, Nov 23, 1999 -- (AFP) Hungary called for "immediate action" Monday to clean the river Danube of the ruins of bridges bombed in NATO's Kosovo war to avoid flooding caused by ice that could block the river.
"Immediate action is needed to avoid a natural catastrophe," Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi told the MTI news agency. "The removal of the ruins from the river must start the soonest possible, this year," MTI quoted Martonyi as saying.
He said Yugoslavia had seemed cooperative lately in clearing the Danube, Europe's second longest and most important waterway after the Volga.
Martonyi said he discussed the issue with Southeast European chief coordinator of a Balkans Stability Pact Bodo Hombach and with "a high-ranking official of the U.S. State Department" at last week's Istanbul summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"We agreed that we shall very strongly urge the cleaning of the river," MTI quoted him as saying.
He added that the Danube Commission made up of the 11 states that lie along the river was doing the planning, and would soon inform Hombach about its work in detail.
Martonyi said that Hungarian companies signaled they had the means to take part in the work, "but that is mainly an issue of financing."
Martonyi was due to discuss the issue with Bulgarian counterpart Nadejda Mikhailova during a two-day official visit to Sofia from Tuesday, his spokesman said.
[URL may be different next day if article is archived]