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Yugoslavia: Premier Says Some Police Units Have Left Kosovo

Belgrade, 5 October 1998 (RFE/RL) - Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic said today that five of the 10 units of special police deployed in Kosovo have been pulled out of the war-torn southern Serbian province. He made the statement in Belgrade before a special session of the Yugoslav parliament called to discuss the situation in Kosovo ahead of the delivery of a crucial report by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

A UN Security Council resolution passed last month demands that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic withdraw his security forces from the province, allow humanitarian aid into Kosovo, and open meaningful talks with ethnic Albanians on the future of the province.

Annan will submit a report to the Security Council later today detailing whether Milosevic has complied with the resolution. Western countries have warned that the report may determine whether or not NATO conducts air strikes against Yugoslavia in an effort to end seven months of violence in Kosovo.

Bulatovic told parliament that Yugoslavia is in "imminent danger of war." He said the country must defend itself by all available means if attacked.

Bulatovic's announcement that some forces have withdrawn comes as veteran U.S. Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke said the situation in Kosovo is as serious today as it was a week or two ago.

Speaking in Brussels after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, Holbrooke said significant Serbian and Yugoslav forces remain in Kosovo, and that fighting could flare up at any time.

Also today Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told ITAR-TASS that Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev delivered a message from Russian President Boris Yeltsin urging Milosevic to take urgent steps to end the crisis in Kosovo or risk facing NATO military action.

Rakhmanin said NATO could go ahead with airstrikes unless "resolute steps are taken immediately to radically remedy the situation in Kosovo."

In a related development, European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to discuss tightening sanctions against Yugoslavia and how to deal with the refugee crisis in Kosovo.