NATO defense ministers on Thursday reaffirmed the alliance's commitment to maintaining security and stability in Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo.
NATO is leading a 16,000-strong international force, or KFOR, in the region. NATO defense ministers held discussions with their colleagues from non-NATO troop contributing countries to KFOR on Thursday.
"All the KFOR participants showed commitment for KFOR, for this very important role, this very important mission," NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters.
"KFOR has to protect the majority and the minority alike – all Kosovar citizens without exception, and create a climate of security and stability in these difficult times in the region," he said.
He said United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 provides for KFOR's legal basis will remain the legal basis for its presence in Kosovo even after the province declares independence.
It is reported that the Kosovar ethnic Albanian authorities would declare independence within 10 days.
De Hoop Scheffer also indicated that NATO may help train Kosovo's security force after independence. But he would not go into details, citing the fact that the status of Kosovo has yet to be settled.
Kosovo has been under UN administration in 1999 after NATO airstrikes drove Serbian troops out of it. KFOR received a UN mandate to guard the region.
(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2008)