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Yugoslavia: Food Rationing Begins: EU Leaders Meet UN Secretary General Today

Belgrade, 14 April 1999 (RFE/RL) - Yugoslav media reported today that rationing coupons for food are being distributed in Pirot on the Nisava river. Western correspondents believe this is the first time that food coupons have been distributed since NATO bombing began. Gasoline rationing was introduced soon after the NATO campaign began. During the night, NATO bombers attacked the Bistrica hydroelectric power plant near the town of Nova Varos about 200 km south of Belgrade. Tanjug said the plant was damaged but gave no details. Industrial and military targets in the town of Valjevo, about 70 km from Belgrade were also attacked. There were no raids on Belgrade during the night, but NATO aircraft flew over the city this morning.

The Associated Press says a NATO attack earlier this week on a satellite station at Prilike, 140 km from Belgrade, is causing communications difficulties. The Prilike station carries most of Yugoslavia's telephone traffic with the rest of Europe. The AP quotes officials as saying one of the three communications dishes was destroyed and the other two badly damaged.

In Brussels, leaders of the European Union countries are meeting later today with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to discuss his five-point plan for ending the conflict in Yugoslavia. Reports from Bonn say the leaders may also discuss a possible peace plan drafted by Germany. A foreign ministry spokesman said the plan has already been sent to European Union governments and NATO and has also been discussed with the Russian leadership. It envisages a suspension of bombing as soon as Yugoslavia begins withdrawing its troops. It also proposes an international peacekeeping force for Kosovo with a mandate from the United Nations but under NATO leadership.

In Albania, the government said it is sending reinforcements to the north to guard against any new attacks by Serb forces. Yesterday Seerb forces crossed the border into Albania and clashed with border guards in the village of Kamenica. They withdrew after setting fire to several houses.

Meanwhile, Western leaders are calling in more planes for the air war. NATO commander General Wesley Clark yesterday asked Washington for an additional 300 warplanes. That would bring to 1,000 involved in the air strikes that began three weeks ago. Clark also said the air strikes were winning the war against Yugoslav forces, but admitted that Yugoslav air defenses were still operational.

Britain said it was sending 1,800 more troops to Macedonia and Greece to help refugees eventually return to Kosovo.