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Spain to pull troops from Kosovo

March 20, 2009
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MADRID - Spain said yesterday it intends to pull its more than 600 troops out of Kosovo by the end of summer - and drew immediate criticism from NATO.

Spanish troops have been in Kosovo as part of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping mission since it was launched in 1999 after the end of the war between Serbian security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

"Mission accomplished. It's time to go home," Defense Minister Carmen Chacon said in a statement published by the Defense Ministry after her visit to a Spanish base in Kosovo.

Chacon said the withdrawal would be in coordination with other allied countries.

But her decision was met with criticism from NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer for not having been previously agreed within the alliance.

A NATO spokesman said Chacon had informed Scheffer of the decision but said the secretary general believed any significant changes to KFOR's structure "should take place as a result of a decision within the alliance".

REUTERS

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