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More Swiss troops may be sent to Kosovo

The Swisscoy contingent has been in Kosovo since autumn 1999

(Keystone Archive)

The number of Swiss troops serving in Kosovo may increase from the current 160 to 220, according to a statement on Sunday from the Swiss defence ministry.

The statement was made in response to an article about Swiss personnel serving in Kosovo which appeared in the German-speaking newspaper, "SonntagsBlick".

But Oswald Sigg, spokesman for the defence ministry, said no decision on an increase in numbers would be made before a meeting of the cabinet and then the Swiss parliament later in the year.

Parliament is due to decide during its winter session in December whether the mission in Kosovo should be prolonged past its mandate, which runs until the end of the year.

The Swisscoy contingent has been in Kosovo since autumn 1999, supporting German and Austrian troops serving with Nato's KFor troops. They are mainly providing logistical support in and around the camp at Suva Reka in Kosovo's Prizren province.

"SonntagsBlick" also reported that the Swiss contingent in Kosovo is "sitting around with nothing to do", a suggestion flatly denied by Swiss Army spokesman, Philippe Zahno.

"The Swiss contingent still has a lot to do," Zahno said, "and there should be some detailed analysis of the situation before beginning any discussion of their return."

The Swiss people voted in a national referendum last June to allow the arming of Swiss peacekeepers abroad and permit joint military exercises with other countries.

swissinfo with agencies


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