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Macedonia: NATO Ambassadors To Decide On Troop Deployment

Brussels, 15 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO ambassadors meet in Brussels today to decide whether to go ahead with a plan to deploy 3,500 troops in Macedonia to disarm ethnic Albanian rebels. Envoys from the alliance's 19 member states will be briefed at a closed-door meeting.

Yesterday, the National Liberation Army (UCK) signed a commitment to disarm. The UCK is the main rebel force in Macedonia. It is not clear when the rebels will begin to turn in their weapons.

Another rebel group, the Albanian National Army (ANA), said it will continue the fight. The ANA has said it was responsible for attacks last week in which 17 Macedonian soldiers were killed.

Under the plan, NATO will deploy 3,500 troops to Macedonia to set up weapons-collection points where rebels will voluntarily dump guns, bullets, and mortars. NATO will destroy the stockpiles.

But NATO says there is not yet a durable or sustainable cease-fire in Macedonia -- one of the main conditions still to be met before the troop deployment.