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World - Europe

Russian envoy 'very satisfied' with Milosevic talks

Chernomyrdin, left, says he expects to return with the EU envoy for more talks with Milosevic next week

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May 28, 1999
Web posted at: 9:51 p.m. EDT (0151 GMT)

In this story:

NATO won't negotiate

Highest number of NATO missions, again

Yugoslavia reports more civilian deaths

KLA reportedly grows larger


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Although no breakthrough in the Kosovo conflict seemed imminent, Russia's special envoy to the Balkans said he was "very satisfied" after nine hours of talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on Friday.

The visit by former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin went ahead despite Milosevic's indictment Thursday by the U.N. war crimes tribunal on charges of murdering, deporting and persecuting ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Russian officials had objected to the indictment, saying it could undermine peace talks.

Chernomyrdin said he made enough progress in his latest talks with Milosevic that he expected to return next week with the European Union's envoy, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, in search of a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo conflict.

I'm very pleased with this visit. We spoke in great detail about all our business, about where we stand in our negotiations," Chernomyrdin said.

"We face the most difficult negotiations in the next few days," he added.

Belgrade radio and the Yugoslav Press Agency reported that Yugoslavia had accepted the principles of a peace plan proposed by Russia and the world's top seven industrialized nations. Those principles provide for the withdrawal of Yugoslav military forces from Kosovo and the return of ethnic Albanians to their homes under the protection of a U.N.-sanctioned "international and security presence."

In a sign Belgrade may be willing to negotiate on two key sticking points, Chernomyrdin said the two sides discussed conditions of a pullout of Yugoslav army and police troops from Kosovo and the introduction of a U.N. contingent.

However, a statement by Milosevic's office said Yugoslavia's "sovereignty and territorial integrity" remained inviolable, signaling that Belgrade was still opposed to any international force in Kosovo that is heavily armed and has a strong NATO component.

A National Security Council adviser in Washington said the Yugoslav statement did not appear to represent any breakthrough.

"We have seen this before. There has to be action that follows this," said Michael Hammer of the NSC. "There is always a caveat or detail or it is conditional upon something else."

Chernomyrdin said Thursday that the war crimes indictment against Milosevic and four senior Yugoslav officials would complicate matters.

"We warned them (the tribunal). We requested them not to do it," he said.

Switzerland on Friday issued arrest warrants for the five and said it was examining an order from the tribunal to freeze any assets held by Milosevic and his associates in Swiss banks.

NATO won't negotiate

On Friday in Brussels, NATO repeated its position that the strikes will continue until Yugoslavia agrees to the alliance's conditions, and that none of them were negotiable.

Notices of a death in the family, top, are usually placed on doors in Serbia, but when a house is reduced to rubble, the nearest tree will do  

"We are not talking about negotiating with President Milosevic. Everybody understands that. There is no negotiation here. The five conditions are the five conditions," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said.

In Washington, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told CNN that Milosevic's indictment was not a matter of negotiation for any proposed agreement to end airstrikes.

"No one has the authority to give him amnesty," she said Thursday. "The Russians voted for the tribunal. This is an action taken by a tribunal, an independent prosecutor representing the international community."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday the indictment was "purely politically motivated," and questioned why the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had not investigated NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. Officials in Belgrade say the attacks have killed thousands of people, many of them civilians.

Highest number of NATO missions, again

On day 65 of the airstrikes, NATO increased the number of missions flown to 792, which alliance officials on Friday said were the highest number yet.

NATO warplanes, taking advantage of clear skies, attacked Serb forces in Kosovo, including at least 20 artillery pieces, two tanks, an armored personnel carrier, two mortar positions, seven anti-artillery pieces and two multiple-rocket-launcher systems.

The bombs hit highway bridges in a number of areas, including Raska, Popovac and Pertate. Military headquarters and army barracks in Pristina, a vehicle storage site at Nis, and more than 10 radio or television communications sites also were struck.

NATO missiles smashed more of Serbia's electrical network overnight, knocking out two major power distribution stations in Belgrade and plunging most of the capital into darkness, Serbian media and residents reported.

Witnesses said flames and smoke poured from an electricity distribution station in Belgrade's Bezanijska Kosa district. That facility distributes power from the Obrenovac generating station southwest of the capital.

Among the casualties of the blackout was Belgrade's main hospital, the Emergency Medical Care Center.

Yugoslavia reports more civilian deaths

A dog wounded in recent strikes limps amid the rubble  

Tanjug said three people died and several were wounded in an attack on Aleksinac, near Nis, that destroyed 10 houses and damaged about 30.

Earlier, the Beta news agency reported that two people were killed and two wounded when a bridge over the Jablanica river in Lebane district in southern Serbia was attacked.

Local media also reported blackouts and interrupted water supplies in the industrial town of Pancevo, northeast of the capital, and in Serbia's second largest city, Novi Sad, in the northwest.

The airstrikes came a day after NATO was granted authority to attack a broader range of targets. A senior U.S. official told CNN they included communications centers and the residences of top Milosevic aids.

KLA reportedly grows larger

In other developments:

  • Albanian military forces conducted training exercises with live ammunition near the Yugoslav border Friday. Rockets and tanks fired shells near Kukes. Albanian military leaders and President Rexhep Meidani watched from a reviewing stand.
  • International agencies and the United Nations sent humanitarian assistance into Yugoslavia, but Yugoslav forces confiscated supplies intended for Kosovo, NATO officials said Friday.
  • An international telecommunications company has decided to ban the Serb television network RTS from accessing its satellite link, blocking broadcasts into much of Europe, NATO officials confirmed.
  • In Washington, Rear Adm. Thomas Wilson said Thursday that the Kosovo Liberation Army, which seeks independence for Kosovo, had tripled in size since the start of the airstrikes from about 5,000 to about 16,000.

Correspondents Matthew Chance and Martin Savidge contributed to this report.

Milosevic indictment makes history
May 27, 1999
Russian envoy due back in Belgrade for Milosevic meeting
May 27, 1999
Trial of aid workers begins in Yugoslavia
May 26, 1999
Some Kosovo refugees moved deeper into Albania
May 25, 1999

Related to this story:
  • U.S. Department of State
  • European Union Home Page
  • The United Nations

Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
  • Kosovo

  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kosovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from

  • United States Air Force
  • F-117s arrive at Aviano to support possible NATO operations
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

  • World Relief
  • USA for UNHCR
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • The IOM Migration Web
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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