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Yugoslavia: Germans, French Optimistic Despite Halt In Kosovo Talks

Bonn/Paris/London/Brussels, 7 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - Despite a halt in talks early this morning, high German and French officials express optimism about the eventual outcome of the NATO-Yugoslav military talks on implementing the Kosovo peace accord. German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said today that the three-day meeting held near Macedonia's capital Skopje had not collapsed. But British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook called the suspension of the talks "serious." NATO confirmed this morning that it resumed full-scale bombing of Yugoslavia after the talks broke off.

In a television interview, German Defense Minister Scharping said that NATO was flexible enough to extend for a few days the seven-day limit the accord had provided for the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo.

A top foreign-policy adviser to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Michael Steiner, echoed Sharping's remarks, saying the talks had not failed, but were merely interrupted. Steiner also said he expected the negotiations to resume later today.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told an interviewer that NATO would overcome what he called "this last-minute obstruction" by the Serbs.

French Minister for European Affairs Pierre Moscovici said he was not sure whether the talks had adjourned for technical or political reasons. In any case, Moscovici added, NATO's "determination and firmness will pay off."

In an interview, British Foreign Secretary Cook said that the negotiations stalled because of Yugoslav insistence on maintaining up to 15,000 troops in the province. In a statement, the alliance said air operations were accelerating and would soon attain the intensity they had prior to the start of the military talks on Saturday.