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Yugoslavia: Belgrade Weighing Response To G8 Peace Plan


Prague, 7 May 1999 (RFE/RL) - A Yugoslav official says Belgrade has not yet reached a decision on how to respond to yesterday's agreement by foreign ministers of the major western powers and Russia on a framework to end the Kosovo crisis. Yugoslavia's United Nations representative, Vladislav Jovanovic, said that the official Yugoslav response to the plan is "still under consideration." Russia today urged the UN Security Council to draft swiftly a resolution on Kosovo which could be used as a basis for resolving the crisis. But Moscow continues to differ with NATO over some key issues. Russia backs deployment of an international peace force in Kosovo to police a political accord, but under UN auspices, not NATO control, and only with Belgrade's approval.

Meanwhile in Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav foreign ministry says at least eight people were killed and 50 injured when NATO air strikes hit the southern Serbian city of Nis. The mayor of Nis, Zoran Zivkovic, told Reuters that NATO had struck a hospital and outdoor market. NATO says it is checking the reports.

The chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, General Hugh Shelton, said during a visit to Macedonia that NATO had no immediate plans for a ground attack on Yugoslavia. Earlier the U.S. Defense Department said it was sending another 176 aircraft to the region.

From the Bulgarian capital there are reports a stray NATO missile landed in a village 20 kilometers outside of Sofia. There are no reports of damage or casualties. It is the fifth missile to fall on Bulgaria since the start of the NATO bombing campaign on March 24.

The United Nations refugee agency expressed concern again today that no Kosovar Albanian refugees are crossing the border into Macedonia. Kris Janowski of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told a news conference in Geneva that Macedonians are telling the agency that the border is open. But he said it does not seem to be open for refugees since none are coming through.

Janowski said it is not clear whether the problem is on the Serb or Macedonian side of the border. Macedonia has assured the UN agency that the border is not closed and that it will continue to take in refugees from Kosovo.

But Macedonian Defense Minister Nikola Kljusev said that refugees are being checked more closely to prevent illegal border crossings. Currently some 200,000 Kosovar refugees are in Macedonia.

The UNHCR sought clarification from authorities in Skopje about the border status after the agency said yesterday that one-thousand people were prevented from crossing the border into Macedonia.
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