US condemns violence in KosovoMonday, February 14, 2000
-- The United States condemned the latest violence in Kosovo on Monday, blaming both ethnic Albanians and Serbs for incidents in the city of Mitrovica.
"Clearly more needs to be done to restore stability under these exceptionally dangerous and challenging circumstances," State Department spokesman James Rubin.
He condemned violence in which snipers wounded two French soldiers. French members of the NATO peacekeeping force fired back, killing one sniper and wounding five others.
Although the snipers were identified by NATO as Albanian, Rubin said both sides have contributed to recent violence.
Let me start by saying that we strongly condemn the violent and murderous incidents that have taken place in Mitrovica and call upon all parties to cease violent acts," the spokesman said.
He said U.S. officials support the increase of NATO forces in Mitrovica and the imposition of a dusk-to-dawn curfew.
"It should be very clear that the confrontation is coming from both sides," Rubin said.
Despite the incidents, he said, tensions overall are being reduced every day in Kosovo.
"Week after week and place after place in Kosovo, the situation has improved in terms of security, in terms of murder, in terms of robbery and crime," he said.
Rubin described Mitrovica as a "hot spot," however, and said, "We need to impress upon the parties their responsibility to deal with the hatreds and animosities that have been built up" and stoked by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade.
"When things go bad, he feels like he had a good day," said Rubin.
Some 50,000 NATO peacekeepers were sent to Kosovo after last year's 78 -day Western bombing campaign that forced Milosevic to halt a crackdown on ethnic Albanians.