U.S. urges quick deployment of EU Kosovo mission

PRISTINA (Reuters) - The United States on Monday urged a quick deployment of the European Union justice and police mission to Kosovo in a way that can overcome the objections of the newly independent former Serbian province.

In February, the EU agreed to send the EULEX mission to Kosovo to oversee the police, the judiciary and customs, but its deployment had been delayed by opposition from Serbia, which rejects the secession of its former province.

Last week the United Nations put forward an amended six-point plan for the deployment of EULEX that was accepted by Serbia but rejected by Kosovo.

Kosovo said the plan would violate its constitution and amounted to a de facto partition of its fledgling state.

“We support the deployment of EULEX as soon as possible,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said after meeting Kosovo’s president and prime minister.

The United States, an outspoken supporter of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, is contributing police officers, prosecutors and judges to the EU mission.

Fried said that there was “a lot of good and no harm” in the amended plan for the deployment of EULEX. “We agreed that we need to find a way forward which takes into account the position of the government of Kosovo.”

According to the plan, policemen, customs officers and judges in the Serb-run areas will be under the umbrella of the United Nations while their Albanian counterparts will work with


Kosovo’s population is 90 percent Albanian. The remaining 120,000 Serbs refuse to cooperate with Albanian-run institutions.

On Friday an explosive device went off at the building housing the office of the European Union’s special representative in Kosovo, causing material damage only.

Kosovo declared independence in February, nine years after a U.N. administration was set up to run the province after Serbian forces were compelled to leave after a NATO bombing campaign.

Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Giles Elgood