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Thousands leaving FYR of Macedonia for Kosovo, UN refugee agency says

Thousands leaving FYR of Macedonia for Kosovo, UN refugee agency says

Some 6,600 people have arrived in Kosovo from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia since 3 May amid new clashes between ethnic Albanian militants and the country's security forces, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

Most of the people were leaving as a precautionary measure, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said, adding that an estimated 3,000 people had crossed the border on Monday alone, using both the official border crossings and small mountain roads.

"UNHCR is gravely concerned about the new wave of violence in the FYR of Macedonia sparked by rebel attacks against security forces," said UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski in Geneva. "We are urging that every effort be made to avoid a further escalation."

In another development, Secretary-General Kofi Annan met today at UN Headquarters with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. Speaking to the press after the meeting, President Kostunica said the talks had examined the legal framework for provisional self-government institutions in Kosovo. "The intention of our Government is to have a multiethnic and multicultural Kosovo within the framework of resolution 1244," he said, adding that institutions for self-rule should be provisional, not final. Other issues covered in the talks included the rights of minorities in Kosovo, acts of violence, missing persons and the displaced, Mr. Kostunica said.

Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General had also met with his special Representative for Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup, and his Special Envoy for the Balkans, Carl Bildt. Mr. Haekkerup is scheduled to brief the Security Council tomorrow.