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Thursday, September 16, 1999 Published at 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK

World: Europe

Kosovo Corps - an army for Kosovo?

The KLA might try to transform the corps into their army

By BBC correspondent Jon Leyne in Pristina

The United Nations and Nato have started recruiting a new civil defence force for Kosovo.

The force, which is called the Kosovo Corps, will include many former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and there are suspicions that it may be used as the basis for a future Kosovo defence force or army.
Kosovo: Special Report

The creation of the corps is one of the most sensitive issues facing the province.

The KLA is due to complete the process of disarmament and demilitarisation this weekend. But some leaders of the KLA have made no secret of their desire for it to live on in the form of the Kosovo Corps.

[ image: General Jackson is set to announce that KLA demilitarisation is complete]
General Jackson is set to announce that KLA demilitarisation is complete
The new corps, which will be 5,000-strong, will be responsible for tasks such as civil defence, dealing with natural disasters and other emergencies.

Only about 200 members will be armed. But they will have uniforms and form military-style units.

KLA leaders see it as a body that could form the basis for a national army.

The Kosovo peace implementation force K-For insists that is not the case.

K-For has issued a stern warning that it is the only body in Kosovo responsible for maintaining order.

For the moment, relations between K-For and the Kosovo Liberation Army are still very good.

K-For is expected to announce that KLA disarmament has been completed on schedule on Sunday.

But the creation of the Kosovo Corps shows the potential for disagreements.

The KLA still wants full independence. The Western alliance is dead set against re-drawing international boundaries in the Balkans.

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