Talks between NATO, Yugoslavia fall apart
Air campaign to be 'continued, intensified'
June 6, 1999
KUMANOVO, Macedonia (CNN) -- Talks between NATO and Yugoslav military officials to set out the details of the proposed Yugoslav withdrawal from Kosovo broke down early Monday morning, and a top NATO official said airstrikes would continue and intensify.
British Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson, who led the discussions for the NATO side, said the positions the Yugoslavs took during the talks were "inconsistent" with the peace framework negotiated by Finnish and Russian envoys and accepted last week by the Yugoslav political leadership.
"The Yugoslav delegation presented a proposal that would not guarantee the safe return of all the (ethnic Albanian) refugees (and) the full withdrawal of Yugoslav forces," Jackson said.
"NATO, therefore, has no alternative but to continue and indeed intensify the air campaign until such time as the Yugoslav side are prepared to implement the agreement fully and without ambiguity," he said.
However, Jackson said NATO would be willing to resume discussions with the Yugoslavs at any point, once they are ready to accept NATO's proposal.
The breakdown came after talks between the two sides went all day Sunday and stretched until nearly 3 a.m. Monday. The negotiations began on Saturday.
NATO leaders were insisting that the Yugoslavs sign the six- page document, which outlined the procedures for withdrawing forces from Kosovo. NATO was adamant that there would be no negotiations with the Yugoslavs and that the withdrawal must take place on NATO's terms.
Yugoslavs agreed to 6 of 20 provisions
Sources reported that the Yugoslav military leaders had agreed to only six of the 20 provisions in the document.
The Yugoslav generals asked for more time than the allotted one week to move their forces from the province, and they also wanted protection from attacks by the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army.
U.S. officials indicated Sunday that they would resist any delay, which they say could open up opportunities for snipers, terrorists and looters and the laying of booby traps.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said he was concerned about any "slow rolling" of the withdrawal process.
"We're not going to allow any kind of deliberate policy of delaying day-by-day, whatever the time frame is," he said on ABC's "This Week" program.
Yugoslav officials also asked NATO to guarantee the safety of ethnic Serbs still living in Kosovo, fearing bloody reprisals when ethnic Albanian refugees forced from the province return home.
NATO air pressure continues
Keeping up the pressure on the Yugoslavs, NATO flew more than 400 sorties from Saturday night into Sunday, according to alliance spokesman Maj. Gen.Walter Jertz. Munitions facilities in Vrsac and Pristina, was well as tanks, artillery and armor on the ground, were among the targets.
Serb media reported that NATO bombs hit Prizren, Kosovo Polje and Djakovica.
There was also military activity along the border between Albania and Kosovo. NATO used B-52 bombers to strike an area near Gorshub, Yugoslavia, just inside the border. The mountain plateau was also the scene of a daylong artillery and mortar battle between Yugoslav forces and the KLA.
Yugoslavia accepted a framework for a Kosovo settlement that calls for the withdrawal of forces from the disputed province and the introduction of a NATO-led international peacekeeping force.
Those troops would oversee the return of ethnic Albanian refugees and a demilitarization of the province, including the disarming of the KLA, which has been fighting for an independent homeland for Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.
Despite the agreement, NATO leaders had vowed to press ahead with their air assault until they see concrete evidence that the Yugoslavs are complying. Even then, Shea said Sunday that the airstrikes would only be suspended, not stopped.
"The sword of Damocles is a good technique for concentrating President (Slobodan) Milosevic's mind, and that's why we'll keep that sword in place," he said.
Cohen said Sunday he is not concerned that the KLA will refuse to demilitarize.
"Everything we've seen to date would tend to indicate they would indeed be on board because the objective of getting all the Serb forces out will be achieved, assuming this agreement in fact is concluded," he said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Peacekeeping force Europe-led
In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the majority of the 50,000-troop peacekeeping force for Kosovo would consist of European troops under the command of a British general.
British and German troops arrived in Macedonia Sunday to prepare for a possible deployment. U.S. Marines who were supposed to disembark in Greece Sunday on their way to Macedonia were delayed until at least Monday because they did not yet have Greek government permission to come ashore.
On Monday in Bonn, foreign ministers from the G-8 countries - - Russia, Japan and six leading NATO powers including the United States -- were to meet to finalize the text of a U.N. Security Council Resolution outlining the peace agreement.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is scheduled to join the G-8 meeting and, while in Bonn, will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to try to reach an agreement for Russian participation in the Kosovo peacekeeping force.
Russian officials have ruled out putting their troops under NATO command in Kosovo -- something Cohen indicated would be unacceptable. And he said there was "no guarantee" that the Russians would be involved.
"The Russians can participate much as they are participating in (peacekeeping in) Bosnia. But there cannot be separate command structures," he said.
Finnish leader to brief Chinese
Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who helped broker the peace framework between NATO and the Yugoslavs, said he plans to travel to China to persuade the Chinese government to support the resolution in the Security Council.
China, which holds a veto as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, has been strongly critical of NATO's campaign in Yugoslavia, particularly after its embassy in Belgrade was bombed.
"My prime aim is to go to see the permanent member who has not been briefed property. I think I owe it to the Chinese that I explain what has happened in these talks that I have attended," Ahtisaari said on "This Week."
Yugoslavs balk at signing Kosovo withdrawal agreement
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