(undated) Republican presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole on Thursday expressed concern that President Clinton may back down from his commitments in Kosovo.

“To the extent that there is a compromise of principles that President Clinton said were non-negotiable, then I think that is unfortunate,” Dole said during a telephone interview.

Dole said Clinton should insist on having NATO involved in any peace enforcement in the Balkans. A proposed peace settlement reportedly would put the United Nations in charge of protecting Kosovar Albanians when they return to their homes.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has said NATO and the U.S. must be allowed to participate in the peace enforcement. Dole, who pronounces Kosovo in the manner ethnic Albanians prefer, is worried resolve will melt as Russian negotiators insist NATO may only be involved if Yugoslav leaders agree.

“I think the objective was to achieve peace in Kosovo,” Dole said. “Now, it seems that the primary objective is to get the Russians on board and avoid ground troops. I’m disturbed, particularly, that an agreement would drop references to NATO.”

Dole said any peace deal must ensure that Serb troops are out of Kosovo.

“Right now, there are more forces in there than when we started the bombing. Those forces must be removed,” she said. “I think the best way to move forward is still a NATO-led force that secures the area, makes sure it’s safe for the Albanian Kosovars to go back to their homes.”

Dole visited the region in April and had been among those calling for ground troops “to win the war absolutely” as she contends the U.S. should never stand for genocidal behavior and instability in Europe. Earlier this year, Dole’s husband, Bob, tried to broker a deal to avoid the crisis in Kosovo.