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Albanians Express Sympathy for US - 2001-09-13

There was a significant expression of sympathy Wednesday for the victims of terrorism in America from ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia.

In Kosovo's capital of Pristina 10,000 ethnic Albanians marched in respectful silence outside the American diplomatic mission. The head of the mission came outside to acknowledge the tribute and became emotional as he thanked the crowd on behalf of the American people.

There were offers of blood donations for the victims. And there were banners, one of which read, America we share your sorrow. Albanians in Kosovo are strongly pro-American. They regard the United States as their key ally against former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic whose expulsion of Albanians triggered NATO's intervention in Kosovo two years ago.

Here in the Macedonian capital of Skopje nearly 200 ethnic Albanians came to the American embassy Wednesday evening to express their sympathy for the American victims of terror. Each person carried a lighted candle as a single file procession made its way past the embassy building. Amarete from the town of Debar carried a bouquet of flowers. "It's been a terrible day for me and the Albanian nation," she said. "I come here for the American nation, for the best people, who are American."

One by one the marchers were permitted into the lobby of the heavily guarded embassy to sign a guest book. Stepping past a window cracked by anti-American protesters weeks earlier, the ethnic Albanians were greeted by a somber American diplomat. Several marchers deposited their candles and flowers in front of the building in tribute to the Americans who died on Tuesday.