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Yugoslavia: NATO Says Bombing Tactics Won't Change, Despite Mishaps

Brussels/Belgrade; 21 May 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO confirmed today that it had carried out an air raid on the Kosovo town of Istok, where a bomb apparently landed on a prison. Up to 19 people were killed, according to Serbian authorities. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said in Brussels the Alliance has no intention of changing its bombing tactics. Shea said that was true as well of raids in and around Belgrade, where several foreign embassy buildings have been damaged in recent days. Late last night, the residences of both the Indian and Swiss ambassadors were slightly damaged when NATO bombed a fuel depot close to the Belgrade suburb where the residences are located. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic today called Western accusations that Yugoslav forces in Kosovo were expelling ethnic Albanians from their homes "another big crime" against his country. In a statement carried on official Serbian television, Milosevic also reiterated demands for an immediate end to NATO's bombing and said the Kosovo issue should be solved by the United Nations.

In Moscow, Russian acting Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met today with international Kosovo negotiators. He said there were still significant differences between Russian and Western views of a settlement of the Balkan crisis.

After a meeting with United Nations envoy Carl Bildt and Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou, Ivanov said the main difference was still over the question of a peacekeeping force in Kosovo and the withdrawal of Serbian forces from the province.

A planned meeting between the two Western envoys and Russia's Balkan envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin was called off, apparently because Chernomyrdin was continuing talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the designated European Union mediator on Kosovo.

In Bonn, diplomats from the seven major industrial Western powers (G-7) and Russia made only what was described as "limited progress" toward agreeing on a joint plan for ending the Kosovo war. German diplomat Guenther Pelueger, who chaired the four-hour meeting, said there were what he called "small positive moves," but admitted serious differences remain.