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Yugoslavia: Cook Warns Belgrade About Kosovo Situation

Belgrade/Pristina, Yugoslavia; 5 March 1998 (RFE/RL) - British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, in Belgrade for talks with Yugoslav leaders, is warning the situation in Kosovo will worsen unless Belgrade takes steps to lessen tensions. Speaking to reporters following talks with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic, Cook said he condemned terrorism in all forms and was deeply anxious about reports of renewed violence in the mostly ethnic Albanian province of Serbia earlier today. He is set to meet later with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

News agencies report that Serb police this morning launched attacks on the mostly ethnic Albanian villages of Prekaz and Lausha after sealing off roads and severing communications in the area. There was no word on casualties.

The official Tanjug news agency said the attacks came after Albanian separatists ambushed a police unit near the town of Srbica. It said police returned fire and searched for the assailants.

Russian Foreign Ministry officials today called for "civilized dialogue" between Belgrade and ethnic Albanian leaders. And NATO condemned Serbian police for their treatment of demonstrators.

Kosovo, which is about 90 percent ethnic Albanian, has seen escalating violence in recent weeks as leaders push for autonomy. More than 20 people were killed last weekend.