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Yugoslavia: Air Strikes Loom As Holbrooke Fails To Persuade Milosevic

Belgrade/Washington; 23 March 1999 (RFE/RL) - Last-minute attempts to persuade Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to halt hostilities in Kosovo and accept a peace deal for the Serbian province appear to have failed. Officials in U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration are reporting that special envoy Richard Holbrooke made no progress in talks in Belgrade with Milosevic last night and today.

The White House says Holbrooke plans to leave Belgrade and that there is no reason to be optimistic. Holbrooke's mission had been described as the last effort before NATO air strikes.

Clinton's foreign policy advisers are meeting in Washington to discuss what to do next. NATO has threatened to bombard Serbian military targets if Milosevic fails to accept the Kosovo peace plan, which calls for wide-ranging autonomy for the province's majority ethnic Albanians. Milosevic objects to the stationing on Serbian soil of NATO peacekeeping troops to police the internationally brokered deal.

Belgrade kept up its defiance today, with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic telling the Serbian parliament to vote "firmly" against any foreign troops in Kosovo.