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Yugoslavia: Yeltsin Hardens Russia's Stance On Kosovo

Moscow, 17 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin said today that he "categorically disagrees" with NATO for rejecting Russian demands for a Russian-controlled sector in Kosovo. Russian news agencies report that Yeltsin made his comments today in instructions to Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, who is in Helsinki negotiating with U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen on integrating Russian troops into the KFOR peacekeeping force. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov are to join the Finnish talks later today.

Sergeyev earlier indicated that agreement had been reached on the command structure for peacekeeping forces as well as the question of Russia's presence at Pristina airport. But neither of these issues was specifically addressed during a joint statement.

The talks in Helsinki have taken on a sense of urgency, as U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin are scheduled to meet on Sunday in Cologne, Germany. Clinton is now meeting with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris holding talks expected to be dominated by Kosovo issues.

Meanwhile in Pristina, British engineers have restored water supplies to the city 24 hours after it was cut off after Serbian engineers fled the city.