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Yugoslavia: NATO Envoy To Bid For Cease-Fire

Bujanovac, 12 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A NATO envoy is expected to meet today with ethnic Albanian officials in a bid to secure a cease-fire between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbian security forces in the Presevo Valley of southern Serbia. NATO's Pieter Feith met with Serbian officials yesterday in Bujanovac, but not with ethnic Albanian representatives.

Ethnic Albanian negotiator Riza Halimi said the main difficulty is a demand by Belgrade for Yugoslav troops to be stationed in Trnava, a village in the buffer zone separating UN-administered Kosovo from the rest of Serbia. Ethnic Albanian militants have been mounting attacks on Serb security forces from the zone.

Meanwhile, Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta met with leaders of parties who represent Macedonia's Albanian ethnic minority.

Macedonian security forces have clashed recently with ethnic Albanian groups which Skopje claims entered its territory from the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Meta said he and the Albanian leaders agreed violence will only damage the image of Albanians.