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Yugoslavia: U.S. Envoy In Belgrade For Talks On Kosovo

Belgrade, 9 March 1999 (RFE/RL) - U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke arrived in Belgrade today for talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on Kosovo. Holbrooke and U.S. special envoy to Kosovo Christopher Hill are due to meet Milosevic tomorrow to try to persuade him to accept deployment of a NATO-led international peace force in the restive Serb province.

Such a deployment is seen by the West as essential to any lasting peace settlement in Kosovo. NATO military leaders are meeting in Brussels today to discuss the deployment of 28,000 troops in such a force.

Holbrooke said today that he plans to warn Milosevic that Washington expects a change in his position on Kosovo within the next few days. Holbrooke added that the Yugoslav stance has been tough and uncompromising.

NATO has threatened air strikes against Serb military targets if Milosevic refuses to make peace with ethnic Albanians.

U.S. officials yesterday announced that leaders of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) have agreed to accept the settlement negotiated last month in Rambouillet, near Paris. The UCK says Belgrade must stop military action in Kosovo before they will sign, however.

Meanwhile, fresh fighting was reported today in Kosovo, with Serbian security forces said to be attacking suspected rebel positions in the town of Vucitrn, about 30 kilometers north of the provincial capital, Pristina. The ethnic Albanian Kosovo Information Center reported today that the village of Ivaja in southern Kosovo also had been shelled by Serbian forces.

In Moscow today, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said President Boris Yeltsin has asked Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to travel to Yugoslavia in the next few days for talks with Milosevic.