Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bush greeted as hero in Albania

President George W Bush has become the first US leader to visit Albania, where he has enjoyed a hero's welcome.

The Balkan country is a staunch ally in America's "war on terror", and Mr Bush met Albanian soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Bush reiterated his support for the UN plan for Kosovo's independence, adding it was time to "get moving" despite opposition from Russia.

He expressed worry about the effect on Kosovans of expectations not being met.
"The question is whether there's going to be endless dialogue on a subject that we've already made up our mind on," he said, after meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

"We need to get moving and the end result is independence," he added.
He also called on the Albanian government to help maintain calm and peace in Kosovo, most of whose people are ethnic Albanians.
The Albanian capital, Tirana, is celebrating Mr Bush's visit, although he is spending just seven hours in the city, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale, who is travelling with the US president.

The city's streets have been cleaned, US flags draped over buildings and a commemorative set of stamps issued for the occasion.
This welcome is in stark contrast to the protests that have followed Mr Bush elsewhere in Europe. [BBC]
Mr. Bush said Washington would continue to seek a solution through the United Nations but , "if it is apparent that [an agreement] is not going to happen in a relatively quick period of time, in my judgment, we need to put forward the resolution. Hence, [the] deadline." A day ahead of his visit to Albania, Bush said in Rome that "no more time should be wasted in solving the issue of Kosovo's status."
Bush said he also discussed the issue with Prodi and agreed with the Italian prime minister that there was a need to make sure the Serbs saw a way forward, such as with potential European Union membership. Bush said, nonetheless, he "did not have a say in that." “But, I can talk to the Serbs about economic development, and can talk about a better relationship with the United States" he said. [B92]
Fair use from BBC and B92. Pictures from Top Channel TV.

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