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Italian general takes over command of NATO-led force in Kosovo
www.chinaview.cn 2005-09-01 23:44:35

    BELGRADE, Sept. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- An Italian general took over on Thursday the command of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo, said reports reaching here from Pristina.

    Gen. Giuseppe Valotto was handed the command over the 18,000-strong Kosovo peacekeeping force (KFOR) in a ceremony in Pristina. He replaces French Gen. Ives de Kermabon will lead the force for one year.

    The ceremony for the transfer of command was attended by UN andNATO officials as well as Serbia-Montenegro Chief of Staff Gen. Dragan Paskas.

    Paskas said in a statement that he came to the taking over of duties by the KFOR commander at the invitation of Gen. Kermabon, with whom he had a very good cooperation.

    "I also came so as to meet Gen. Valotto, establish contact right away, have a good cooperation and continue to have good and reliable partnership relations with KFOR," Paskas said.

    Valotto is the 10th commander of KFOR since its deployment in Kosovo. His inauguration comes as NATO is to begin a one-year major reshuffle of KFOR in October.

    NATO officials have revealed that KFOR would be transformed to a structure based on task forces instead of brigades to improve and facilitate command and control.

    The NATO-led peacekeeping force initially deployed 50,000 troops in Kosovo, backing UN administrators who have overseen the Serbian province since the end of the Kosovo war in June 1999. Butthe number of troops has been gradually reduced. Enditem

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