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Azerbaijan To Pull Peacekeepers From Kosovo

In the aftermath of Kosovo's independence declaration, Azerbaijan is preparing to pull its peacekeeping troops out of the region, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has formally asked parliament to withdraw the country's peacekeepers from Kosovo.

Zahid Oruj, a member of the National Security Committee of the Azerbaijani parliament, tells RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that the decision is related to the "changes in the recent political situation" in Kosovo -- its controversial February 17 declaration of independence.

Baku has called Pristina's independence declaration "illegal" and has refused to recognize Kosovo. Azerbaijani officials say they are concerned that Armenia will try to invoke the Kosovo "precedent" in peace talks over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Parliament is expected to debate the issue during its March 4 session.

Azerbaijan currently has a 34-member unit in Kosovo. The troops are part of a Turkish-led force that is under NATO supervision. In addition to Kosovo, Azerbaijani troops have also participated in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.