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Yugoslavia: Peace Talks Falter As Milosevic Refuses To Meet U.S. Envoy

Belgrade, 19 February 1999 (RFE/RL) - U.S. envoy Christopher Hill is flying back to France tonight after Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refused to discuss the Kosovo peace talks. Hill had flown to Belgrade to try to persuade Milosevic to accept a peace deal now on the table at talks with the Kosovar Albanians in Rambouillet, France. Before heading back to Paris, Hill did meet with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic.

Earlier, Milosevic said he would rather have Serbia be bombed than give up the Serbian province of Kosovo.

NATO has threatened air strikes unless Belgrade agrees to grant Kosovar Albanians substantial autonomy and accept a NATO force of up to 30,000 to enforce the settlement.

European Union countries today urged their citizens to leave Yugoslavia and Western embassies have begun evacuating non-essential staff and dependents.

The deadline for both sides to accept a peace deal expires at noon tomorrow (Paris and Prague time). EU mediator Wolfgang Petritsch said today in Rambouillet that the peace talks are "in the middle of nowhere."