Western powers demand end to Kosovo violence

PARIS, Feb 17, 2000 -- (Reuters) France said on Wednesday that continued international support for the U.N. civilian mission in Kosovo was conditional on the end of violence and the dismantling of illegal social structures.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that political directors from the main countries backing the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force - Germany, the United States, France, Italy and the United Kingdom - gathered in Pristina on Wednesday to discuss rising violence.

The officials met Bernard Kouchner, head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), General Klaus Reinhardt, commander of KFOR, and Kosovo Albanian representatives Ibrahim Rugova, Hashim Thaci and Rexhep Qosja, the ministry said.

During talks with the Kosovar leaders, they underlined that the international community had made a considerable investment in Kosovo, both financially and in personnel, it said.

"Given this investment, the international community has the right to ask the Kosovar leaders to assume their responsibilities, which implies dismantling parallel structures, putting an end to the system of illegal taxation and ending violence," it added.

Ethnic violence has flared up recently in the volatile city of Mitrovica, leaving at least 11 people dead and more than 20 wounded.

Thaqi, political leader of the officially disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, on Wednesday warned the strife could spread to other parts of Kosovo unless international authorities got a grip on the problem.

KLA leaders, who fought a guerrilla campaign against Serb rule for more than a year before NATO bombing drove Serb forces out of Kosovo, have denied involvement in any violence.

The U.N. mission aims to restore Kosovo's civilian institutions in the aftermath of the bombing, with the aim of holding municipal elections by the end of the year.

The French Foreign Ministry said the international community would not permit extremists to divide Kosovo.

"Our continued support of an autonomous Kosovo depends on the success of Kosovar leaders in combating violence wherever it manifests itself, on their success in expelling extremists and on their full support for the actions of UNMIK and KFOR."

KFOR has blamed extremists on both sides for the recent violence, but officers have declined to be more specific while the investigation continues.

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