Skopje, 19 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- About 230 soldiers from Britain, Canada, France, Greece, and the Czech Republic have arrived in Skopje as part of a mission to evaluate the situation in the troubled republic of Macedonia. NATO officials say 400 soldiers in all are expected to arrive by the end of today.
The troops are the vanguard of a force that will evaluate a shaky cease-fire signed last week between Macedonian government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels.
If the mission concludes that both sides are adhering to the truce, NATO could agree to send a 3,500-strong force to collect weapons from Albanian guerillas.
Speaking to journalists in the rebel-held village of Sipkokica, the political leader of the self-styled National Liberation Army (UCK), Ali Ahmeti, vowed that UCK fighters will hand over their weapons to NATO soldiers.