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Serbia: OSCE Warns Against Force In Kosovo; Will Increase Monitoring

Vienna, 11 March 1998 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) warned today that the crisis in Kosovo is not just an internal affair of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and it advised Belgrade to refrain from using excessive force there.

The OSCE warning came during an emergency meeting of member states' delegates in Vienna. The OSCE said the crisis in Serbia's southern Kosovo province could have a serious impact on the security of the region and it announced that it will step up its monitoring activities along Kosovo's borders with Albania and Macedonia.

In Brussels, meanwhile, NATO ministers considered a request by Albania for a NATO peacekeeping force to patrol its border with Kosovo. NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said military measures to end the crisis in the province were premature, but added that he would visit Tirana tomorrow to discuss Kosovo with Albanian leaders.

The International Red Cross announced in Geneva that it has temporarily pulled out its five staffers from Kosovo after receiving repeated threats.

In Kosovo, the leader of the province's largest ethnic-Albanian party, Ibrahim Rugova, rejected the Serbian government's call for dialogue or any formula that would give ethnic Albanians some degree of limited sovereignty. Rugova told a news conference in the provincial capital Pristina that "the only acceptable solution for us is an independent Kosovo, not some kind of autonomy."