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Yugoslavia: Bishop Urges UN To Support Kosovo Moderates

United Nations, 22 February 2000 (RFE/RL) - A prominent Serbian Orthodox bishop from Kosovo has come to the United States to urge the UN and NATO to halt the cycle of violence and killings in the Yugoslav province. Bishop Artemije, a public critic of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, said he blames both Serbian and ethnic Albanian extremists for trying to sabotage peace in Kosovo. But he said Serbian extremism in the province had been strengthened by the UN's dealings with Albanian extremists, and that the UN should now work only with moderates from both sides.

The bishop met yesterday in New York with UN officials before leaving for Washington for talks with U.S. officials.

NATO-led peacekeepers fired tear gas yesterday to block a crowd of ethnic Albanians from surging into the Serbian community in the divided Kosovo city of Mitrovica.

KFOR commander General Klaus Reinhardt credited his troops for preventing the Albanians from clashing with Serbs, who had gathered on the other side of the bridge which divides the city.

The unrest was the latest eruption of ethnic strife in Mitrovica, where at least nine people have been killed and more than 20 injured in violence involving Serbs and ethnic Albanians this month. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, accused Yugoslav leaders in Belgrade of fomenting the tensions in the city. Holbrooke offered no evidence of his claim.