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Yugoslavia: Ethnic Albanian Leader Positive About Coalition

Pristina, 29 July 1998 (RFE/RL) - Ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova says he's making progress on forming a coalition group to represent ethnic Albanian interests in talks with Belgrade on the future of the Serb province. The international community has been pushing Rugova to unite the various ethnic Albanian leaders, who remain divided over strategies and goals in dealing with Yugoslav authorities.

Speaking after meeting a delegation from the European Union, Rugova said he's reached a compromise with other ethnic Albanian leaders and that the coalition will include all political forces in the province. He did not provide details.

Rugova said the visit by the EU delegation was important because the province is coming under a renewed Serb offensive. The diplomats from Austria, Britain and Germany are to meet later with U.S. envoy Christopher Hill before heading to Belgrade for talks tomorrow with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

A Belgrade radio report today said Serb forces were massing to open a new offensive against the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) in the Drenica area, about 40 kilometers west of Pristina. Yesterday, Serbs overran an ethnic Albanian stronghold at Malisevo, reportedly sending UCK forces fleeing.