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Yugoslavia: Kosovar Albanians Declare Provisional Government

Pristina, 24 February (RFE/RL) - Ethnic Albanian delegates at the Kosovo peace talks near Paris have decided to form a provisional government led by a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). Our correspondent in Pristina says the decision was made yesterday after Kosovar Albanians were unable to get international mediators at Rambouillet to approve their demand for a referendum on independence for Kosovo. The provisional government aims to govern Kosovo until elections are conducted. The Kosovapress news agency reports that the decision to form a new government was taken after consultations between three ethnic Albanian groups at the talks -- UCK, the Democratic League of Kosovo, and the United Democratic Movement. There has been no immediate reaction on the report from Belgrade or from international mediators.

The peace talks at Rambouillet were suspended yesterday until March 15. Foreign ministers from the six-nation Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia said agreement had been reached on "substantial autonomy" for Kosovo. But they said neither the Kosovar Albanians nor Serb delegates had signed the Contact Group's draft peace accord, which calls for a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

Serbia's negotiators returned home from the Kosovo peace talks saying they had triumphed against enormous international pressure. Serbian President Milan Milutinovic said the talks had achieved "significant initial success" in solving the problems in Serbia's Kosovo province. He said the talks had affirmed Yugoslavia's sovereignty as well as the equality of all ethnic groups living in Kosovo.