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World - Europe

U.S., Russia extend talks on Russian role in KFOR

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Effort to break deadlock to resume Friday

June 17, 1999
Web posted at: 6:53 p.m. EDT (2253 GMT)

In this story:

Sources say no Russian sector in U.S. proposal

Clinton: Atmosphere 'positive and hopeful'


HELSINKI, Finland (CNN) -- U.S. and Russian negotiators met late into the night Thursday, trying to break a deadlock over Russia's role in the Kosovo peacekeeping mission, known as KFOR.

After about 12 hours of talks in the Finnish capital, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen emerged to say the two sides would continue efforts to find a solution.

"We have made great progress today and resolved a lot of outstanding issues, but we have not yet finalized an agreement," Cohen said.

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev was also upbeat.

"We have optimism to reach agreement at our level in order to have something to report to our presidents," he said.

The meeting was adjourned shortly after midnight and set to resume Friday morning.

Cohen submitted a "detailed proposal" for Russia's review earlier Thursday, the second day of the Helsinki talks. A senior Defense Department official said the proposal is aimed at resolving the last outstanding issue between the United States and Russia, but the official would not say what the sticking point was.

Other U.S. officials said the talks have foundered on a Russian demand for control of a separate zone in Kosovo. That is a demand that NATO countries, which lead the KFOR mission, have refused.

Cohen and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are leading the U.S. delegation in Helsinki in talks with their Russian counterparts -- Sergeyev and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

Sources say no Russian sector in U.S. proposal

Those close to the talks said the plan Cohen presented does not create a new sector for the Russians. U.S. officials would not say if they were optimistic about the prospects for reaching an agreement Thursday.

"Both sides want to reach an agreement," one said. "That much is clear from these talks."

Among the topics in Helsinki was the contingent of about 200 Russian troops that moved unexpectedly into Kosovo early Saturday, taking control of Pristina's airport.

According to the Russians, the Helsinki talks have settled the question of Russia's role at the airport. But U.S. officials said the issues have to be settled as a whole, not one by one.

The Russians have kept NATO from setting up a planned base at the airfield, but British troops around the airport have kept them supplied with food and water, said Adm. Ian Garnett, Britain's chief of joint operations.

Russia, which is not a NATO member, also has balked at placing its troops under a NATO commander, British Lt. Gen. Mike Jackson said.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin said in Moscow that Russia would not drop its demand that Russian peacekeepers control their own sector and he relayed that stance when he spoke by telephone with Sergeyev.

"In principle, most of the issues have been resolved peacefully," Yeltsin said in comments broadcast on television. "But one question, which I would undoubtedly call the principal one, is sectors. In other words, they don't want to give Russia a sector."

Clinton: Atmosphere 'positive and hopeful'

In Paris, U.S. President Bill Clinton was still predicting a "successful conclusion" to the talks Thursday.

"The atmosphere is pretty positive and pretty hopeful," Clinton said on the lawn of Elysee Palace after a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac.

Sergeyev struck an optimistic tone as well, predicting that differences about Russian participation would be resolved by the weekend.

"We're moving in the right direction," Sergeyev said. "Along every road, we made a different progress."

Correspondents Andrea Koppel and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

KLA rebels accused of vandalizing Serb monastery
June 17, 1999
Kosovo refugees ignore dangers to return home
June 17, 1999
The tide turns: Kosovo Albanians return home as Serbs flee
June 16, 1999
U.S., Russia near deal on Russian troops in KFOR
June 16, 1999

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

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from

  • 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

Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • 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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