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Yugoslavia: Albanians Reject Talks with Milosevic

Prishtina, 17 June 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Ethnic Albanian leaders in the Serbian province of Kosova today called for NATO intervention and said it will not hold talks with Belgrade until Yugoslavia pulled out its special police units.

Xhemail Mustafa, spokesman for ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, said in a written statement that Milosevic must withdraw special units from Kosova and stop ethnic cleansing before making "easy promises for dialogue." Mustafa said that without fulfilling the withdrawal demand it is not serious to talk about negotiations.

His remarks refer to Milosevic's agreement in talks with Russian leaders in Moscow to meet many of the demands set by world powers for ending bloodshed in Kosova, including to restart a dialogue with ethnic Albanian leaders.

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov today defended Moscow's mediation efforts in the Kosova crisis, saying the declaration signed by Yugoslavia was the best deal possible at the time. Responding to Western criticism, Primakov told reporters the important point was that Belgrade had pledged not to use force against civilians.

Also in Moscow today, the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, accused NATO of preparing an "invasion" of Kosova.

A resolution passed by 332 Russian deputies warned that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's military exercises in the Balkans region on Monday violated accords signed between Russia and the alliance in 1997. The resolution said the air exercises over countries neighboring Kosova cast doubt on any form of cooperation between Russia and NATO.

In the region itself, violence reportedly continues unabated and at least 10 people have been killed or wounded in the past few days. The Serb media center in Prishtina today reported an ethnic Albanian attack on a police patrol along the Stimlje-Suva Reka road late yesterday. It said no one was hurt, but several police vehicles were reported damaged.

Separately, police in Tirana say Yugoslav border guards yesterday shot dead an Albanian citizen inside Albania near a path used by refugees fleeing Kosovo. Interior Ministry spokesman Artan Bizhga said Adem Bajram Selmani had been killed 40 meters inside Albanian territory.