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Cabinet seeks extension of Swisscoy mandate

The government has come out in favour of extending the mandate of the Swiss peacekeeping force Swisscoy in Kosovo until 2014.

Switzerland had a vital interest in peace and stability in southeastern Europe, according to a defence ministry statement on Wednesday.

The new mandate is subject to approval by parliament and includes the possibility of stocking up the 220-strong contingent at short notice by 80 additional troops for 12 months.

Swisscoy has been part of the multinational Kfor troops in Kosovo since 1999. About 4,200 Swiss soldiers have participated in missions so far.

The troops are armed for self-defence but do not join peace enforcement operations.

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party has criticised the cabinet decision saying it was in breach of Swiss neutrality and went against a general trend of withdrawing international troops from the former Serbian province.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008.

There is a sizeable ethnic Albanian community from Kosovo in Switzerland.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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