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Kosovo security force to be partly created by 2009 - NATO

RIA Novosti

25/06/2008 20:06 BRUSSELS, June 25 (RIA Novosti) - The first phase to build a security force for Kosovo, which unilaterally proclaimed independence on February 17, will be completed by 2009, a NATO spokesman said Wednesday.

James Appathurai added that it would not be a military force. He said it would have 2,500 personnel and an 800-strong reserve.

NATO confirmed on June 12 that it was ready to back the launch of a new Kosovo domestic security force and supervise the standing-down of the Kosovo Protection Corps.

The principal tasks of the new force - which NATO says will be lightly armed and have no heavy weapons - will be crisis response, bomb disposal and civil protection.

The UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which is the only legal basis for an international presence in Kosovo, authorizes the deployment of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR).

On Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pressed ahead with his plan to gradually hand over the main UN powers to the Albanian-dominated region's government and to a 2,200-strong EU police mission to be deployed there.

Kosovo - which has been under UN administration since NATO bombings ended a conflict between Serbian troops and Albanian separatists in 1999 - has been recognized by 43 of the 192 UN member states, including the United States and most major European countries. Russia and China have refused to acknowledge its sovereignty.

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