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Yugoslavia: Yugoslavs Return To Kosovo Troop Withdrawal Talks


Kumanovo, Macedonia; 9 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - Negotiations between NATO generals and Yugoslav officials on a pullout of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo resumed this afternoon after a recess of several hours. The two top members of the Yugoslav delegation have returned to the Kumanovo military base in Macedonia, where the talks began on Saturday. Colonel General Svetozar Marjanovic and foreign ministry spokesman Nebojsa Vujovic had used the pause to consult with Belgrade. A NATO official involved in the talks said the two men had advised high Yugoslav officials of their reluctance to sign a military withdrawal accord until a United Nations Security Council resolution on the issue was seen and adopted.

The Group of Seven industrialized nations and Russia yesterday agreed on a draft UN resolution that said NATO would suspend its 11-week bombing campaign of Yugoslavia only after it verified that a substantial Yugoslav troop withdrawal was underway. The Council has begun consideration of the resolution.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview that he hoped a deal on Yugoslav withdrawal could be concluded today, but warned that previous experience of dealing with the Serbs demanded caution.

The state-run Yugoslav news agency Tanjug says that a Serb police unit that had been involved in combat operations in Kosovo today returned to its base in central Serbia. The agency gave no figure for the number of police involved, and it was unclear whether their return represented the start of a large-scale pullout.

In Brussels, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said the alliance had seen certain signs that Serb forces might be preparing for an eventual pullout from Kosovo. He also said that NATO had put some of its units of four-hours notice to move in once the Serbs had withdrawn.

A NATO military team that was due to arrive today in Moscow to discuss Russia's role in the peacekeeping force put off its visit by one day, but the reason for the delay was not revealed. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev told the Federation Council that Moscow could send from 2,000 to 10,000 peacekeepers to Kosovo.
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