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SRSG Visits Kosovo Protection Corps Work Site in Mitrovica

MITROVICA--Bernard Kouchner, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and KFOR Commander Gen. Dr. Klaus Reinhardt today visited a work site where the Kosovo Protection Corps and French KFOR troops were working side by side to clean up a polluted canal.

"I am so happy to see the KPC in action," the SRSG said after touring the site. "This is not an easy job, but it is essential for the future of Kosovo. Their work is helping rebuild Kosovo."

Approximately 50 members of the Kosovo Protection Corps and French soldiers picked up garbage and carted silt out of the Lusta Canal, which flows into the Ibar River that runs through the middle of the town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo. The site is one of several civic projects in the region and around Kosovo that the KPC has undertaken.

Dr. Kouchner met later with Kosovo Serb and Albanian leaders at the UN headquarters in Mitrovica to discuss the planned "confidence zones" that will serve as a buffer and safe area between the northern and southern sides of the city. KFOR and UNMIK Police today began securing the zones. Tear gas was used this morning when Serb crowds gathered in one area. Several people sustained injuries, and two UNMIK police vehicles were damaged.

"It will take time to give confidence to both Serbs and Albanians," Dr. Kouchner said. "We need to convince them that this measure will improve security. We are working for all the people of Mitrovica."

The SRSG said that the meetings with the Serb leader, Oliver Ivanovic, and the Albanian leader Bajram Rexhepi were productive.

"Peacekeeping is a long process. I don't think that it will be achieved in eight months, ten months or twelve months," Dr. Kouchner said. "But working together, we will achieve a lasting peace over time."

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