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Macedonia: Borders With Kosovo Reopen

Skopje, 3 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Macedonia today reopened its border with Kosovo. The Interior Ministry said two border crossings -- at Blace and Jazince -- were reopened for general traffic. Macedonia closed the border three weeks ago in a bid to prevent ethnic Albanian militants from crossing over. The border closure had been damaging the Kosovo economy since all major trade and transport routes to the Serbian province pass through Macedonia.

Talks on ending the grievances of Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority were held yesterday in Skopje, amid reports of renewed gun fighting.

After three hours of talks, President Boris Trajkovski said there will be more discussions. Yesterday's talks were attended by the largest ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Party of Albanians, which is in the governing coalition. But they were boycotted by the main ethnic Albanian opposition party, the Party for Democratic Prosperity, or PDP. Trajkovski described the boycott as regrettable. The PDP defended its move.

The renewed gunfire came in the village of Selce, above the flash point city of Tetovo. Macedonia defense officials say their forces exchanged fire with a group of gunmen trying to enter the village.

On the diplomatic front, the European Union's foreign affairs commissioner, Chris Patten, and security chief, Javier Solana, were in Skopje yesterday for more talks with Trajkovski. Today, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson is due in the Macedonian capital.