NEWS BRIEFS

Slovak sappers likely to leave for Kosovo instead of Albania

The UN is expected to decide soon whether or not Slovak troops will be sent in mid-July to Albania as scheduled, Major General Ľudoviť Gál, head of the Defence Ministry's division for integration and foreign relations, said July 6.

The 40 Slovak sappers scheduled for the mission are ready to go, he said, but may not be needed in Albania as most of the refugees are now returning home.

Instead, he said, the army engineers will likely be sent to Kosovo. "The deployment of 40 Slovak regular servicemen there in about a month is more realistic," he said. "The objective of the army engineers will be to contribute to putting life back on the road to peace, mainly by building roads, bridges, de-mining and building facilities for other troops of this peace keeping operation," Gál said.

Slovak Parliament endorsed the sending of the Kosovo-bound troops on June 30. With a half-year expense allocation of about 39 million Sk, the unit is to operate under the authority and logistical control of the Austrian contingent. Half of the cost is to be paid for by the Slovak government and the other half by the Slovak Defence Ministry.

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