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NATO Reportedly Seeks To Cut Kosovo Troops

French KFOR watch helicopters take off near Mitrovica, Kosovo.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO plans to scale down its 15,000-strong KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo to 10,000 by January, a senior U.S. official has said.

"KFOR is looking to shift to the next phase of operations -- to a deterrence presence," the official, who requested anonymity, told a news briefing.

He said a mission review had concluded the security situation allowed for the reduction in the province, which declared independence from Serbia last year.

KFOR has been in Kosovo since 1999 under a United Nations mandate following NATO's bombing campaign to drive Serb forces out of Kosovo.

The official said the military recommendation had been considered by NATO ambassadors and would be formally decided at a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels this week.

He said KFOR was already operating as the third line of security after the Kosovo Security Force and a European Union mission, and had not had to intervene for some time.