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Yugoslavia: NATO Suspends Air Campaign

Brussels, 8 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO says it is suspending its three month-old bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. The announcement was made this afternoon by NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, who said the Alliance had verified Yugoslav security forces had begun a full withdrawal from Serbia's Kosovo province. The suspension of bombing clears the way for the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution authorizing the deployment of a NATO-led international peace force in Kosovo. Solana said that the first troops of the force could enter Kosovo as early as tomorrow if the UN passes its resolution today. Solana said he had already informed both UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council of the bombing suspension. The council is likely to meet in New York within hours.

Solana told a new conference that the decision to suspend the air campaign was made after Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had complied with all of NATO's demands. He did not specify what those demands were.

In Belgrade, Milosevic said that the international forces entering Kosovo would serve the cause of peace and called for national unity to rebuild the country. In a brief television address, Milosevic said that 462 Yugoslav soldiers and 114 police were killed during the 79 days of NATO air strikes. NATO officials have said many more Yugoslav soldiers and police were killed, though there has been no independent confirmation of either estimate.

Solana said he had taken the decision after consulting with the North Atlantic Council of the alliance's 19 permanent ambassadors, its chief policy-making body. He said he had also received confirmation from U.S. General Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme military commander, that the Yugoslav withdrawal from Kosovo was truly underway.

Solana said the pullout was taking place in accordance with the peace implementation accord agreed to by NATO and Serbian military officers last night.

The NATO announcement came only hours after Serbian forces were first observed pulling out of Kosovo and heading north for Serbia.