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France To Send More Troops to Kosovo

February 24, 2000

PARIS (AP) _ France has taken the lead in sending fresh troops to back up peacekeepers in Kosovo, but other European nations showed little sign today that they plan to increase their participation.

French Defense Minister Alain Richard announced in Washington on Wednesday that his country was preparing to deploy an additional 600 to 700 soldiers to northern Kosovo. France already has 4,500 troops in Kosovo.

France’s decision follows increasing violence between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the city of Kosovska Mitrovica. The United States said Wednesday that a U.S. Marine unit may follow.

Additional troop contributions will be discussed at a special meeting Friday of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels.

There was little reaction in European capitals today.

Defense officials in various countries including Germany, which has one of the largest number of troops, were considering whether to send more troops. But some countries, including Finland, Denmark and Portugal, said they had no plans to increase their contribution.

``We have no need to send additional forces to Kosovo. We’re able to carry out our duties with the size battalion that we have,″ said Juha Pallaspuro of the Finnish Defense Ministry.

Finland’s 800 soldiers are in the British Sector, which has been quieter than the one under French supervision.

In Athens, NATO Secretary-general Lord Robertson urged calm among alliance members today.

``There is no panic,″ Robertson said. ``We have enough troops in Kosovo to deal with the situation.″

There are 30,000 NATO troops and 7,000 soldiers from non-NATO countries now attempting to keep the peace in Kosovo.

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