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Yugoslavia: OSCE Monitors Say Truce Restored In Kosovo

Pristina, 28 December 1998 (RFE/RL) - International monitors in Serbia's troubled Kosovo province said today they think they have succeeded in restoring a ceasefire in the northern part of the province, where violence had flared in recent days. The fighting over the past four days was the worst since the truce was established when Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agreed to withdraw many combat forces under threat of NATO air strikes. More than a dozen people have been killed.

A spokesman with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Jorgen Grunnet, said teams of monitors held talks late last night with commanders of Serb security forces and with ethnic Albanian rebels in the area, where more than a dozen people have been killed since Thursday in a series of clashes.

Grunnet said the area around Podujevo, some 30 kilometers north of the provincial capital Pristina, appears quiet today. He was speaking for a team of some 600 unarmed OSCE monitors who have been deployed to verify compliance with an October ceasefire. The number of OSCE monitors in Kosovo is due to eventually top 2,000.

Grunnet called the fighting in recent days local skirmishes. He said "there was no all-out war."

Today, OSCE Chairman and Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek reiterated that the organization will have to reconsider its role in Kosovo if the violence continues. Geremek said Serbian forces have re-entered Kosovo and "undertaken repressive action." At the same time, he said, terrorist acts have been committed by ethnic Albanians, who make up the overwhelming majority of the population in Kosovo.