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Hamre: Peace, Stability in Kosovo Everyone's Responsibility

By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo, March 6, 2000 – U.S. officials are concerned about increasing violence in Eastern Kosovo, but believe it's critical that Serbs and ethnic Albanians equally take responsibility for stabilizing the situation, DoD's number- two man said.

Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre visited U.S. troops in Kosovo and spoke with local media representatives March 2.

Hamre said there are still groups in Kosovo that want to sow hatred and dissension, but that NATO's Kosovo Force will not tolerate such actions.

"We want everyone in the area to know KFOR is not going to tolerate violence," he said. "Hostility and anger are not in anyone's best interest. That just means KFOR would have to be here longer, but we will make sure this is a stable environment."

He said both parties should be interested in stability in the region because that fosters economic development. "It's not just KFOR's responsibility to help get people back to work, to get them productively employed," Hamre said. "The people have got to take responsibility, too."

Currently, DoD sees no need to send more American troops into the area, but, Hamre said, officials won't rule out that option for the future.

Hamre explained that NATO's supreme allied commander, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, has said there are "adequate troops in the region." However, Hamre said, those troops do need to be reconfigured for greater flexibility.

Italian Interior Minister Massimo Brutti accompanied Hamre during the trip to Kosovo. The group later visited Italian troops in Macedonia. A planned trip to Camp Able Sentry, the U.S. base in Macedonia, had to be canceled because of bad weather. Hamre also met with European and NATO leaders in Rome, the Netherlands and Norway before returning to the United States March 5.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDeputy Defense Secretary Dr. John Hamre and his wife, Julie, eat lunch with American soldiers at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, March 2. Photo by Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA.  
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