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The BBC's Tom Carver
"In Kosovo, President Bush was amongst friends"
 real 56k

US soldier in Kosovo
"I'm excited that he cares enough to actually show up and tell us that we can carry on"
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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Bush rallies Kosovo troops
US President George W Bush
Mr Bush is not planning a swift military exit
President George W Bush has told US troops during a short trip to Kosovo that America will stand by its allies in their peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

Mr Bush said: "American ally forces came in to Bosnia and Kosovo; we came in together and we will leave together. "

The president is having lunch at Camp Bondsteel, south-east of the capital, Pristina, where most of the 7,000 American troops in Kosovo are based.

Kosovo needs to end up like the rest of the region, as part of Europe. We don't want to make Kosovo become the 51st state of the United States

US official
He is also due to meet senior Nato commanders and United Nations officials in charge of the administration of Kosovo.

The visit is the first by a US president since Bill Clinton's in 1999, just after Nato-led forces took control of the region.

It concludes a week-long European tour taking in the G8 summit in Genoa and a meeting with Pope John Paul II.

On Monday, Mr Bush made it clear that despite suggestions made during his election campaign last year he is not planning a swift military exit from the Balkans.

But correspondents say the Americans are reluctant to get involved in further missions, for example in Macedonia.

Civilian institutions

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that Mr Bush would push for the strengthening of civilian institutions in the region as a step towards bringing troops home.

US soldier in Kosovo
The US has 7,000 troops in Kosovo
An unnamed US official said: "Kosovo needs to end up like the rest of the region, as part of Europe. We don't want to make Kosovo become the 51st state of the United States."

Mr Bush will be briefed by the UN head of mission, Hans Haekkerup, on preparations for November's elections, which are designed to speed up that process.

Mr Bush is also likely to be briefed on the situation in Macedonia following Monday's outbreak in fighting between ethnic Albanian rebels and the Macedonian military.

But he is not expected to meet Macedonian leaders.

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See also:

11 Apr 01 | Europe
US to maintain Balkans role
20 Mar 01 | Americas
US walks Balkan tightrope
18 Mar 01 | Europe
Greater Albania question
07 Apr 01 | Americas
Analysis: Bush's foreign policy
02 Feb 01 | Americas
US softens line on Balkans troops
29 Mar 01 | Europe
Nato's Kosovo challenge
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