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US calls for restraint in tense Kosovo

The United States Department of State calls on Serbians and Albanians to exercise tact and restraint in the pinging weeks of Kosovo independence talks.

The U.S. called Wednesday authorities in Belgrade and Kosovo Albanians to exercise appropriate level of restraint in the next phase of "intensified" discussion, which will follow after Troika mediators, will submit the report to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

We are grateful that in the troika's conversations, both the Kosovars as well as the Government of Serbia have made it clear that they do not intend to resort to violence. So we look forward for all parties to exercise that appropriate level of restraint as we move forward, Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman of the US Department of State, said. Again, these are issues that we certainly understand there are many difficulties with and many emotions that have been expressed by all parties on, and we look forward to being able to continue the discussion. But again, I think we also believe that the outcome of this is clear.

We believe that short of an agreement being reached in those discussions with the troika between the parties, that the appropriate way to proceed is to move forward under the terms of the Ahtisaari plan, including supervised independence for Kosovo. Obviously, there will be a lot of discussion, I suspect, that will follow the conclusion of the troika's negotiations and we'll just see where they take us. But I think from our perspective, the outcome for this is and should be clear to everyone, Casey said.

At the same time, Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, General John Craddock, said NATO forces are prepared to respond to violence in coming weeks, should the breakaway of the province be met with force by Serbia. “We have done contingency planning for the best case and the worst case scenarios,” Craddock said. He specified that the plans include the possibility of quickly boosting the 16,000 NATO troops currently in Kosovo. Craddock said that he believes pledges by Kosovo's leaders that they will work to prevent violence. He said that NATO will be prepared to work with police in Kosovo to shut down any paramilitary group that tried to assert authority in the territory. The Supreme Allied Commander for Europe called Kosovo “the most volatile issue confronting NATO today.” (mrt)