Macedonia appeals to US for aid against terrorists

SKOPJE, Apr 15, 2000 -- (AFP) Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski on Friday asked US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for extra security along Macedonia's border with Kosovo.

During the telephone conversation, Trajkovski also asked for "total support" in Macedonia's fight against "terrorist groups" and said "the principal preoccupation for Macedonia was security along the border with Kosovo", presidential aids revealed Friday.

Security in southern Kosovo, along the province's border with Macedonia, is the responsibility of the US contingent of the NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR.

Trajkovski drew Albright's attention to the recent kidnap on the border of four Macedonian soldiers who were later released.

"We do not wish to enter into conflict with terrorist groups but if they do not respect our country and its territorial sovereignty ... and if they represent a threat to our soldiers, then we shall deal with them firmly," Trajkovski reportedly said.

The terrorist groups concerned were not identified.

Macedonia has a large ethnic-Albanian minority and fears that the separatist violence that erupted last year in Serbia could spread across its frontier.

Around 30 US troops, allegedly drunk, were detained on Tuesday following a street fight with Macedonian civilians in Skopje that left one person injured.

Macedonia is a logistical base for NATO's operations in Kosovo. Tensions between KFOR and the local population rose last year after a series of road accidents were blamed on NATO vehicles.

Original article