President Bush on Wednesday authorized military assistance to Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia last month.

Bush signed a Presidential Determination granting Kosovo eligibility to receive defense articles and defense services under the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act, which require that the president determine that military assistance "will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace."

The United States was among the first countries to recognize Kosovo after its Feb. 17 declaration of independence.

The White House said Bush's move would strengthen U.S. security relations with Kosovo, promote security and stability throughout the Balkans and improve Kosovo's capacity to take part in peacekeeping activities, deter terrorists and deal with humanitarian emergencies.

Tensions have been high since Kosovo's declaration of independence, which Serbia says is illegal under international law.

"The actual provision of defense articles or defense services will be considered on a case-by-case basis, including with respect to relevant guidelines and criteria established in the existing Conventional Arms Transfer policy," the White House said. "Each request will also be reviewed to ensure that all legal requirements and constraints existing at the time with regard to the sale, lease, or other transfer are satisfied."