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NATO FM's To Discuss Role In Kosovo, Afghanistan


By Lisa Bryant
Paris

NATO Foreign Ministers to Discuss Role in Kosovo, Afghanistan

NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels Friday to discuss a number of issues, including the alliance's role in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and the admission of new members.

In opening remarks at the Brussels meeting, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stressed the alliance's commitment in keeping its peacekeeping troops in Kosovo beyond the December 10 U.N. deadline on the future status of the breakaway Serbian province.

"NATO'S continued commitment to the security and stability of the region remains crucial and we will act resolutely against anyone who seeks to resort to violence," he said. "Regardless of the outcome of the status process, Kosovo will remain and has to remain a place where Kosovar Albanians, Serbs and others must be allowed to live in peace together free from fear and free from intimidation. We are determined to play our part."

The foreign ministers had a full agenda in Brussels. Besides NATO's role in Kosovo, where Kosovar Albanians are threatening to declare independence, the alliance will also discuss their efforts to secure peace in Afghanistan and expanding their ranks to include new members.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov from non-member Russia are also expected to discuss a new U.S. intelligence review that suggests Iran suspended its alleged nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Accord to press reports, NATO members agreed over dinner Thursday night that their policy toward Iran should not change. But Lavrov has said Russia sees no evidence Tehran ever had a nuclear weapons program.

The Russian and NATO foreign ministers are also expected to discuss other topics on which - as Mr. Scheffer pointed out - they do not always see eye to eye. Most notable among them is Kosovo, a European arms treaty Russia has suspended adherence to and US plans to establish a missile defense system in eastern Europe.

ENDS

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