Crisis meeting as KLA rejects deal to disarm

THE PROSPECTS for a peaceful transition to civilian rule in Kosovo have received a serious setback after the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rejected Nato's plans for its demilitarisation.

As the crisis threatened to deepen, Nato unexpectedly sent its supreme commander, Wesley Clark, to Kosovo's capital, Pristina, yesterday to persuade the guerrilla force to carry through its declaration to disarm, made after the liberation of the province in June.

General Clark went immediately into a meeting with Agim Ceku, the chief of staff of the KLA, while General Sir Mike Jackson, the commander of Nato's Kosovo Force (K-For) warned the organisation that its actions were putting at risk "Kosovo's future as a whole".

With some disputes still unresolved, Nato has agreed to a 48-hour extension of the deadline, until Tuesday midnight, with the support of the UN civil administrator, Bernard Kouchner. Nato's aim is to re-invent the 10,000-strong KLA as a 5,000-member civilian body, the Kosovo Corps, to carry out humanitarian missions and civil protection.

But the KLA leaders are said to have presented a host of objections, starting with the name Kosovo Corps. They argue that it should be a National Guard, forming the nucleus of a future Kosovan army, as stated in the declaration. They also insist that they should have control of the new force, and they want the number of corps members allowed to carry weapons for self-protection and guarding key installations after demilitarisation increased from 200 to 400. There is also argument over access to weapons.

Against a background of continuing attacks on Kosovo's remaining Serb population and intimidation of Kosovo Albanian opponents of the KLA, senior Nato commanders have privately voiced grave reservations about the extent of the KLA's arms handover. Of 10,000 weapons surrendered so far, 9,000 are small arms - and some of them, and the small amount of heavier weaponry given in, are decidedly elderly stock, such as bolt-action rifles.

Hashim Thaci, leader of the KLA and unelected prime minister of a provisional government for Kosovo, pointed out that General Jackson had agreed publicly that the KLA's arms handover had been on schedule. He added: "The decommissioning process is still ongoing. The talks are ongoing, but they have been postponed."

Observers point out that Mr Thaci and Mr Ceku will have to keep on board many KLA commanders who are increasingly angry that the group's contribution to the defeat of Slobodan Milosevic's forces has not been recognised.

The Russians, part of the peace-keeping force in Kosovo, have indicated that they would vehemently oppose the KLA keeping its arms and existing structures under another name.

Protests also came from Belgrade, which called the talks "a farce" and accused Nato of giving in to "KLA blackmail".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee