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Yugoslavia: U.S. Mediator Warns Of Deteriorating Situation In Kosovo

Pristina, Yugoslavia; 6 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Kosovo mediator Christopher Hill returned to the troubled southern Serbian province today, warning that there has been a very serious deterioration into violence in the past two weeks. Hill, who is trying to negotiate a long-term political solution between Serbian authorities and the majority ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, spoke after an incident last night in the provincial capital, Pristina. Reports from the city say Serbs retaliated for an attempted attack on a cafe packed with Serbs by attacking Albanian-owned businesses. Hill's mission comes as both NATO and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) are putting pressure on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic over the Kosovo situation.

In an interview published today in the International Herald Tribune, NATO's supreme commander in Europe, U.S. General Wesley Clark, was quoted as saying the Serbs are violating their commitments to NATO over Kosovo.

And Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, the incoming OSCE chairman, said he will meet Milosevic within the next few days to tell him Belgrade has the main responsibility for finding a political solution in Kosovo.

The OSCE is in the midst of deploying a force of unarmed monitors -- called verifiers -- to Kosovo to oversee an October ceasefire. Vollebaek admitted today the team is not yet as big as the OSCE had hoped it would be. He said the verifiers can play a stabilizing role in Kosovo because they can act as mediators between the two former warring sides, as well as being observers.