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In Kosovo, crazy for the Clintons

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a town hall meeting/interview at the National and University Library in Pristina, Kosovo, Wednesday Oct.13, 2010. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton got a warm welcome from large pro-American crowds in the capital of Kosovo on Wednesday as she closed out a three-nation tour of the restive, ethnically splintered Balkans. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a town hall meeting/interview at the National and University Library in Pristina, Kosovo, Wednesday Oct.13, 2010. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton got a warm welcome from large pro-American crowds in the capital of Kosovo on Wednesday as she closed out a three-nation tour of the restive, ethnically splintered Balkans. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)
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By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 13, 2010; 9:41 AM

PRISTINA, KOSOVO- This poor, tiny corner of Europe turned into the Land of Clinton on Wednesday, with thousands of Kosovo residents turning out to greet Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and pay homage to her husband.

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Former president Bill Clinton is revered here for his role in ending the Yugoslav "ethnic cleansing" campaign of the late 1990s.

Arriving in Pristina, Clinton's motorcade slowed to a halt on the central Bill Clinton Boulevard, and she hopped out of her car to personally inspect an 11-foot gold statue of the former president. She waved and smiled as a crowd brandished American flags, applauded and chanted "Hill-a-REE!! Hill-a-REE!"

Above the little plaza, an image of Clinton grinned from a giant billboard. Hillary Clinton's face beamed from another billboard nearby, bearing the word "Welcome."

After posing for photos with the Bill Clinton statue, the secretary of state ducked into the Hillary boutique next door.

As she emerged, a local reporter approached. "Do you like it?" the reporter asked, gesturing to the statue. "Your husband."

"Yes! And look, a store with my name," said the secretary of state, holding a shopping bag inscribed "Boutique Hillary."

Asked what she thought of Kosovo, Hillary Clinton replied, "I'm so glad to be back after 10 years. It's wonderful."

The chief U.S. diplomat was concluding a three-day Balkan tour that also took her to Bosnia and Serbia.

During her husband's administration, NATO bombed Yugoslavia to force it to end an "ethnic cleansing" campaign in Kosovo, a breakaway province largely populated by ethnic Albanians.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008.


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