Nato considers Kosovo reinforcementsFriday, 25 February, 2000
Nato ambassadors are discussing whether to send troop reinforcements to Kosovo to quell an upsurge in ethnic violence.
The special meeting in Brussels has been called to discuss the overall military situation in Kosovo, but will focus on the situation in the divided town of Mitrovica, where nine people have died in recent clashes between Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
General Klaus Reinhardt, the German commander of the peacekeeping force, is briefing the meeting via a video linkup from Pristina.
Nato's supreme commander in Europe, US General Wesley Clark, this week called for an extra 2,000 troops for the Nato-led Kosovo Force (K-For).
France has already promised to send an extra 700 troops to the province, and has called on other Nato countries to do likewise.
And a US Marine contingent is standing by in the Mediterranean Sea to reinforce the peacekeepers if need be. A Pentagon spokesman said no specific request had been received yet.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright left open the possibility of more American troops going to Kosovo, but noted that the US already had the biggest contingent. For now, it would be up to the Europeans to provide reinforcements, she said.
Living in fear
For several months, Kosovo Albanians have been prevented from reaching the Serb side of town, including the hospital and the university, while Serbs have been unable to go to the post office on the southern side.
Serb residents of the town are planning a demonstration on Friday against what they see as threats to their existence from local ethnic Albanians.
Last Sunday, weapons searches conducted by the peacekeepers dramatically increased tension in the town.
Residents in the Serb-dominated north of the town bombarded US and German troops with stones, bricks and snowballs, forcing the peacekeepers to beat a hasty retreat.
The violence in Mitrovica prompted some 10,000 ethnic Albanians to march from the capital, Pristina, to the divided city, demanding a resolution to the tensions.