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Macedonia: NATO, Rebels Agree On Weapons Surrender

Skopje, 24 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO and ethnic Albanian rebels in Macedonia today reached an agreement on the number of weapons to be voluntary surrendered by the insurgents. The NATO commander in Skopje, General Gunnar Lange, stopped short of specifying the number of weapons to be given up by the rebels, saying that the figures will first be submitted to the Macedonian government for review.

Lange said, however, that the figures are "credible and close" to NATO's "intelligence assessment."

The rebels initially said they had some 2,000 arms while the Macedonian Interior Ministry alleges that the rebels have 85,000 weapons.

The NATO mission to collect and destroy the weapons is to begin next Monday (27 August). Some 15 collection points will be established in the vicinity of the towns of Tetovo, Kumanovo, and Debar.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said from Kyiv, Ukraine, that he had "great doubts" as to whether the rebels would surrender their weapons voluntarily. Putin is in Ukraine with President Boris Trajkovski of Macedonia and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma celebrating the 10th anniversary of the former Soviet republic's independence.