Kosovo Albanians celebrate Clinton's birthday

PRISTINA - Hundreds of Kosovo Albanians attended a folk concert to celebrate the 61th birthday of former US president Bill Clinton on Sunday, remembering his support for their separatist struggle.

Dancing to Albanian folk music before a huge birthday cake outside the national theatre, they expressed gratitude for Clinton's approval of a NATO bombing campaign to end a Serbian crackdown during the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict.

"I hope president Clinton lives to be 101. I hope his wife Hillary is elected president and rules America as her husband did," said Lutfi Salihu, a 66-year-old pensioner who attended the concert.

"If it wasn't for him you wouldn't have one single Albanian in Kosovo nowadays."

It was the fourth time Kosovo Albanians have publicly celebrated Clinton's birthday and follows the raptuous welcome for US President George W. Bush in Albania earlier this year.

"We confirmed the love that we Albanians feel towards president Clinton and America as well as the American people," Bekim Rexhepi, the head of the Association of Friends of America, told the crowd.

Kosovo has been run by a UN administration since the end of the war and Washington is a major backer of the Kosovo Albanian majority's drive for independence from Serbia.

08/19/2007 20:43 GMT

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