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17 March 2004

U.S. Deplores Outbreak of Violence in Kosovo

Violence threatens democratization, reconciliation and must end

The United States deplores the recent incidents of serious violence in Kosovo, State Department Deputy Spokesman J. Adam Ereli said March 17, referring to clashes earlier in the day between Albanian and Serbian communities in which at least six have been reported killed and more than 300 injured.

"The escalating violence threatens the process of democratization and reconciliation in Kosovo and must end."

Following is Ereli's statement:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
March 17, 2004

Statement by J. Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman

OUTBREAK OF VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO

The U.S. strongly deplores the recent incidents of serious violence in Kosovo, involving clashes between the Albanian and Serb communities, which have caused death and injuries. We urge all of Kosovo's citizens to restore calm and in particular to cease blockading of transportation routes and other disruptive or violent actions. We call on Kosovo's political leaders to use their influence to urge their constituents to refrain from violence and express their views through peaceful means.

We ask that the people of Kosovo respect the Kosovo Force (KFOR), international police, the Kosovo Police Service, and cooperate with international efforts to investigate the drowning of ethnic Albanian youths in Mitrovica and yesterday's shooting of a Serb youth in Caglavica. We call on regional leaders and media outlets to react responsibly, report accurately, and support restoration of order and reconciliation in Kosovo.

The U.S. expresses its condolences to the families of the three ethnic Albanian youths who drowned last night; we deplore the shooting of the Serb youth Monday night and hope for his full recovery. The escalating violence threatens the process of democratization and reconciliation in Kosovo and must end.

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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