Russia, U.S. disagree on Yugoslavia peace plans
April 29, 1999
But NATO and Russia disagree on the composition of such a force, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said in Brussels Thursday that NATO conditions for ending airstrikes are non-negotiable.
Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, talking to reporters at a Moscow area airport, said a primary role of his two-day trip was to determine the composition of such an international force.
Earlier Thursday Chernomyrdin met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and said the United Nations should play a central role in negotiating an end to the war.
Chernomyrdin said he had "concrete proposals," approved by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, on settling the Balkan crisis.
A former prime minister, Chernomyrdin traveled to Belgrade last week and said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was ready to make concessions in return for an end to NATO's airstrikes.
Milosevic's brother, Borislav Milosevic, who is Yugoslavia's ambassador to Moscow, said Belgrade would accept civilian peacekeepers in Kosovo from non-aligned nations and Russia.
"Yugoslavia is ready to accept a civilian mission under a United Nations flag, with Yugoslavia to agree on the composition and the number of countries, with a big corresponding role for Russia," Borislav Milosevic said Thursday.
NATO has rejected Yugoslavia's offer that U.N. peacekeepers -- not NATO peacekeepers -- be allowed into Kosovo if a settlement is reached. And Talbott on Thursday downplayed Russia's latest diplomatic overtures.
"This is not a negotiation between the U.S. and Russia. This is not a negotiation between NATO and Russia," he said at a NATO news conference. "Nor is the United States negotiating with the Milosevic regime."
Talbott said Yugoslavia must accept conditions, laid out by NATO before the airstrikes began six weeks ago, to stop the attacks. In particular, refugees from Kosovo must be able to return without fear to the Serbian province. To do so, a NATO peacekeeping force is necessary, he said.
Bonn seems receptive to Moscow
In Bonn, Chernomyrdin meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Thursday morning. Schroeder, speaking at a news conference with the Russian diplomat, said if the withdrawal of Serb military and police forces from Kosovo can be verified "it is reasonable to think about the limited suspension of airstrikes."
In London, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Thursday that NATO and Russia "are getting very close to agreement across a number of fronts."
But he downplayed any expectation of a breakthrough, saying the makeup of a peacekeeping force remained a topic of considerable debate.
Russia has opposed the NATO bombings and said Yugoslavia must agree on the composition of any international peacekeeping force. Chernomyrdin said NATO should halt its bombing as a first step toward negotiating an end to the war.
"It's a useless task to try to solve this problem under bombing," he said. "But what we need now is not a search for these paths (to peace) but radical concrete action."
In recent days Russia has seen a steady flow of international politicians and diplomats, including Talbott, seeking to enlist its help as the only major world power with good access to Milosevic.
Reuters contributed to this report.
New refugees describe forced evacuation, possible massacre
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.