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Yugoslavia: Ethnic Albanian Leader Wants West To Intervene In Kosovo

Pristina, 7 August 1998 (RFE/RL) - Kosovo's Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova today repeated his call for Western military intervention to stop the Serb offensive in the southern province of Kosovo. Serbs claim that their offensive is nearly over, as Milosevic pledged earlier, but Rugova demanded international protection. Rugova also said that Serb prisons in Kosovo have become "mass camps" where Albanians are molested.

U.S. envoy to Kosovo Christopher Hill and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasyevsky met in Pristina today with Rugova, after earlier talking among themselves. No details of either talks were released.

Diplomatic sources say Afanasyevsky will next see local Serbian authorities, while Hill is expected to tour Orahovac and Malisevo -- two towns that have witnessed bitter fighting in recent weeks.

Rugova declared today a day of mourning for hundreds killed by the fighting in Kosovo. Nearly 200,000 more people have been uprooted.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the NATO alliance has finalized plans for possible air operations to help restore peace to Kosovo. The agency quotes a senior NATO diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that air operations could be implemented in a matter of "days not weeks" and would target Serbian air defense, command control and military assets within Kosovo and the rest of the country.