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Yugoslavia: Serb Official Says Kosovo Situation 'Mixed'

Pristina, 25 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- A leading Serb official in Kosovo says the situation in the restive southern Serbian province is "mixed." Bosko Drobnjak, provincial secretary for information for Kosovo, told our correspondent today in Pristina that things were better in the sense that Serbs had taken steps, in his view, toward formalizing an education agreement allowing for the gradual return of ethnic Albanians to state schools. At the same time, Drobnjak said, things are worse because, as he put it, violence continues on the western outskirts of the capital, Pristina.

Ethnic Albanian women today held a peaceful demonstration in Pristina to protest recent Serb police violence in the province.

Reports say that as many as 4,000 women took part in the 30-minute protest. Our correspondent on the scene says that police did not intervene.

Demonstrators carried banners saying "Stop the Serb Terror." Others chanted "Rugova, Rugova" in a show of support for ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova. More than 80 people, including women and children, have died this month in a Serbian police crackdown against ethnic Albanians in reprisal for the shooting of four Serbian police.

Meanwhile in Bonn, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright held talks with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel ahead of a meeting of the six-country Contact Group on the crisis in Kosovo.

The Contact Group is sharply divided over how hard to move against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Russia opposes sanctions against Belgrade to force it to negotiate a settlement with ethnic Albanians seeking independence for Kosovo, whose ethnic Albanians hold a 90 percent majority.

The other European members of the group -- Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- are ready to impose sanctions.