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Yugoslavia: Commanders To Discuss Kosovo Troop Withdrawal Tomorrow

Brussels/Belgrade; 4 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - Western officials announced today that NATO officers plan to meet with Yugoslav defense officials tomorrow to discuss details of a Yugoslav troop withdrawal from Kosovo. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea confirmed that the meetings will take place tomorrow morning on the border between Macedonia and Serbia. Shea said NATO Rapid Reaction corps commander General Michael Jackson would meet Yugoslav general staff officials to deliver directions for a Serb pullout from Kosovo.

At a European Union summit in Cologne, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia will only be suspended when there is verifiable evidence that Yugoslav troops are being pulled out.

But in separate remarks in Cologne, both German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac said that NATO has begun reducing its attacks on Yugoslavia after yesterday's acceptance by Belgrade of an international peace plan for Kosovo.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders in Yugoslavia are expressing anger at Milosevic at bringing about the devastation of the country while accepting a peace deal which they say could have been accepted three months earlier in Rambouillet.

In Helsinki, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said today he was hopeful that Russia and NATO would reach an agreement on the command of an international security force for Kosovo. There are unconfirmed reports in Moscow of a rift in the Russian delegation handling the Kosovo negotiations over the terms of the peace deal.