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Macedonia: Militants Continue To Withdraw In Macedonia

Skopje, 26 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Officials say ethnic Albanian militants continued to withdraw from positions in northwest Macedonia today, but rebel leaders are giving contradictory reports about whether the pull-out is complete. The rebels began withdrawing this morning from positions gained since 5 July around the city of Tetovo, under a NATO-brokered deal signed last night between the rebels and the government.

Under the accord the retreat was meant to end by 1300 (Prague and local time).

A rebel spokesman known as Commander Iliri told AP that the withdrawals were completed by noon. But another spokesman, known as Captain Shpeti, told AFP the militants were waiting for a full accord with NATO to complete their retreat.

AP reports that ethnic Albanian politicians say talks aimed at reaching a political settlement will resume after each side meets separately in Skopje with NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

For more on this story, please see Macedonia: Robertson, Solana Back In Skopje To Help Resolve Crisis.