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Yugoslavia: Milosevic Will Accept Only Non-Military Observers

Belgrade, 14 April 1999 (RFE/RL) - Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is prepared to accept only the deployment of non-NATO foreign civilian observers in Kosovo. Lukashenka made the comment after talks with Milosevic today in Belgrade. Earlier today, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea told a briefing in Brussels that the alliance will not compromise with Yugoslavia on demands for the future of Kosovo, including a demand for the presence in the province of an international military force, at least some of which would be NATO troops.

Shea said the alliance also continues to insist that Yugoslav forces withdraw from Kosovo and that ethnic Albanian refugees be allowed to return to their homes.

Shea said he could not confirm reports of continuing mass killings and atrocities in Kosovo, but said the fate of ethnic Albanians in the province remains grave.

Shea said he expected a European Union meeting today to once again declare the EU's solidarity with NATO's fundamental objectives in Kosovo.

Shea called a new German peace proposal "useful," but said it seemed mainly "food for thought" on how the international community could start bringing the Kosovo crisis to a conclusion. The German plan, under discussion today by the EU, would call for NATO to suspend its air strikes for a day to allow Serb troops and special police to withdraw from Kosovo.

In Paris, a spokesman for the French defense ministry said Yugoslav forces in Kosovo remain numerous and threatening to ethnic Albanians and that destroying them will take time. Spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau said the French military estimated Serbian power in Kosovo at 20,000 soldiers and 15,000 para-military security forces, backed by up to 400 armored vehicles.

Monitors for the Organization For Security And Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported that Yugoslav forces fired shells into northern Albania today. This comes after Yugoslav troops yesterday briefly crossed the Albanian border and attacked a village in the worst border incident since the NATO air campaign began March 24.