PODGORICA, Montenegro - Montenegro has agreed to let EU troops pass across the tiny Balkan country from Bosnia to Serbia's ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province, a report said.
Hans Joachim Witauer, commander of the European Union Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, or EUFOR, signed an agreement with Montenegrin Defense Minister Boro Vucinic in Podgorica earlier this week, the Serbian daily Danas reported Thursday.
The agreement on technical cooperation allows the air and road transit of EUFOR peacekeepers through Montenegro on short notice in case of an urgent need for sending reinforcements to Kosovo where NATO protection troops have been deployed since 1999 to contain conflicts between the ethnic Serb and ethnic Albanian populations.
About 16,500 U.S.-led NATO troops are stationed now in Kosovo as part of a U.N. plan leading to an independent Kosovo, which is under consideration in the U.N. Security Council.
However, Witauer said he hopes the agreement would be used only for exercises.
After the Dayton peace accords that ended the Yugoslav ethnic wars in 1995, NATO deployed 60,000 peacekeepers in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in December 2004 about 7,000 EU troops replaced NATO soldiers.
The European Union plans to reduce its peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia from the current 6,000 to 2,500 soldiers later this year.
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