Powell Condemns Terrorist Violence

Secretary of State Colin Powell cautioned on Friday that outbreaks of violence sponsored by ethnic-Albanian terrorists are eroding international support for Kosovo's Albanian leaders.

After a meeting with Kosovo leaders and the U.N. administrator, Powell told reporters that recent terrorist attacks in Macedonia appear to be the work of homegrown extremists and those who have crossed the border from Kosovo.

"Violence is not the answer," Powell said.

The secretary was wrapping up a European tour carrying a promise from President Bush to help support democracy in the Balkans, with military force if necessary.

Powell had planned to travel to both Kosovo and Bosnia before returning to Washington, but rain and a heavy overcast prevented him and his entourage from taking a planned helicopter ride over rugged mountainous terrain to Kosovo's provincial capital of Pristina.

Instead, Kosovo's U.N. administrator, Hans Haekkerup, and Kosovo leaders came to Skopje, Macedonia's capital, to meet with Powell.

The secretary of state still planned to meet with Bosnian officials later in Sarajevo, Bosnia's capital.

Among those who met with Powell was Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova. Talking separately with reporters, Rugova disavowed any links with ethnic-Albanians responsible for the violence in Macedonia.

"We condemn the violence," he said. He said his immediate goal was to hold national elections in Kosovo.

Powell said the violence in Macedonia "is eroding international support for Kosovo," where Albanians are in the majority.

Turning to China, Powell said there were many issues still to be resolved with the return of the U.S. crew of the surveillance plane forced down in China.

Powell said he looked forward to the April 18 meeting of the two nations to discuss the incident, and added that he would be "letting them (the Chinese) know of our concerns in those areas where we have disagreement."

On Thursday, during his first visit to a region that has seen much ethnic violence since the end of the Cold War, Powell said "We will be engaged politically and economically, and provide military assistance as appropriate."

Bush had said during last year's presidential campaign that the United States should reduce its peacekeeping role in the Balkans, and that Europeans should play a larger role in such missions in Europe.

But during his three-day European swing, Powell has repeated a U.S. commitment to supporting stability in the Balkans — and has sought to assure U.S. allies that the United States will not precipitously withdraw its troops now in Bosnia and Kosovo.

With U.S. blessings, the foreign ministers of countries of southeast Europe pledged in a conference in the Macedonian capital of Skopje on Thursday to boost cooperation, condemning recent extremist violence in Macedonia and Bosnia.

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