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Nato urges more cash and commitment for Kosovo

STOCKHOLM, Mar 31, 2000 -- (Reuters) NATO warned on Friday that reconstruction of a multi-ethnic Kosovo would fail unless governments backed up their words with cash and commitment.

George Robertson, the Atlantic alliance's secretary-general, praised Sweden's contribution to the KFOR peacekeeping force and to administration in Kosovo, which he visited one week ago.

"I made it clear last week that we are on a razor's edge between success and failure," Robertson told a news conference during a 24-hour visit to Sweden.

"We are rebuilding a multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo. It's not going to be an easy job," he said, adding that more resources were needed to prevent violence between Serbs and ethnic Albanians.

"That is why it is important that the resources are put in in order to back up the commitment and dedication of the peacekeepers," the NATO official said.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted narrowly on Thursday against a bid to withdraw U.S. forces from Kosovo unless European allies took on a larger share of peacekeeping efforts.

The Pentagon has complained that European NATO members are not shouldering enough of the costs and work of quelling ethnic violence and rebuilding the war-torn Balkan country.

Robertson underlined on Friday that without more funds and commitment, the Kosovo mission could fail.

"I think it is quite possible that we will fail and therefore that the whole world will fail, he said.

"It is for the international community to make the decision as to whether we want it to succeed and whether they are willing to back up fine words with financial resources," Robertson said.

The NATO official did not rule out the possibility of Russia's one day joining the military alliance, which was originally formed against Soviet expansion.

"Russia has rebuilt, has restarted its relationship with NATO," he said, and referred to comments by President-elect Vladimir Putin that Russia might on certain conditions seek to join NATO.

"You cannot exclude anything in this world, but this is not on NATO's agenda at present and nor is it on Russia's agenda," Robertson said.



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