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Russia: Chernomyrdin To Host Kosovo Talks In Moscow

Moscow/Belgrade; 20 May 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russia's special envoy to Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, resumes his bid to mediate a solution to the Kosovo crisis today after meeting yesterday with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Chernomyrdin is due to hold talks in Moscow with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the European Union's Kosovo mediator. The three held talks in Helsinki Tuesday and yesterday. Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema is also due in Brussels for talks with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana.

After meeting with Milosevic yesterday, Chernomyrdin said that, in his words, "a step forward" had been made, but that major differences remained. He said any peace accord must be based on a plan put forward two weeks ago by the G-8 nations, which comprise the world's major industrialized countries and Russia. In a brief statement issued after the talks, Milosevic's office said that he and Chernomyrdin agreed that any solution to the crisis should be based on principles agreed to by the G-8, but that Yugoslavia must participate in working out the details. The statement said a solution to the conflict could be found "only politically and within the United Nations." The statement said talks between Chernomyrdin and Milosevic would resume next Monday and Tuesday in Belgrade.

The G-8 framework peace plan provides for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force, the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo, the return of ethnic Albanian refugees and the creation of an interim administration for the Serbian province.

Meanwhile, political directors from the G-8 nations meeting in Bonn reported progress, but no agreement toward a draft U.N. resolution that would back NATO's terms for ending the conflict.