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Yugoslavia: Chernomyrdin To Host Kosovo Talks

Moscow, 26 May 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russia is due today to make another diplomatic bid to end the crisis in Kosovo with Russian Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin hosting a fresh round of talks in Moscow. Chernomyrdin is scheduled to meet with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari in a government dacha outside the Russian capital. Ahtisaari is the European Union's Kosovo envoy. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is set to hold talks with Talbott before the U.S. diplomat meets Chernomyrdin and Ahtisaari. Chernomyrdin said yesterday that the result of today's negotiations should be, in his words, "a stop to missile and bomb strikes on Yugoslavia." Chernomyrdin said he will travel to Belgrade tomorrow for talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic regardless of the outcome of today's talks.

Talbott said yesterday that he is "well aware" of the strains NATO's bombing campaign have created between the U.S and Russia, and between NATO and Russia. Yesterday, the North Atlantic Council, NATO's policy-making body, approved an increase in the size of its proposed Kosovo peace implementation force to a strength of up to 45,000 soldiers. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the exact size of the force will be determined in the next few weeks.