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World - Europe

Serb officials say Yugoslavia 'ready to cut a deal'

Serbian TV showed images of a damaged fuel depot in Prahovo

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May 18, 1999
Web posted at: 9:10 a.m. EDT (1310 GMT)

In this story:

NATO steps up allegations of war crimes


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Yugoslavia is "ready to cut a deal" to end the conflict with NATO over Kosovo, a Yugoslav Foreign Ministry official said in Belgrade Tuesday.

Nebojsa Vujovic offered no details, however, about whether or not the Serbs were willing to accept NATO's conditions for ending the bombing campaign that began March 24.

Those conditions include a complete withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo, the safe return of ethnic Albanian refugees to their homes and an international peacekeeping force with NATO troops at its core.

CNN's Walter Rodgers said in Belgrade that the Yugoslav government, believing NATO's unity to be fraying, appeared to be "positioning itself to claim a moral victory" over the alliance.

The Foreign Ministry issued a "categorical denial" of NATO claims that the Yugoslav army is using civilians as "human shields" against NATO bombs, Rodgers said. But, he said, the government claimed to have more than 1,000 names of civilians killed in NATO attacks.

Those air raids on Yugoslavia picked up overnight after two days of cloudy weather kept most of the alliance's planes on the ground.

Yugoslav media reported Tuesday that NATO bombed the city of Nis, hitting an industrial zone and a key road linking the city to Belgrade.

NATO also targeted sites in Kosovo, including Djakovica and Prizren in the west; Srbica, Donje Obrilje and Likovac in the central Drenica area; and the southern outskirts of the provincial capital Pristina, the Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said.

Yugoslav television also reported attacks on Vranje, Vladicin, Rakovac and the mountain town of Fruska Gora near Novi Sad.

"Despite the bad weather, we were still able to successfully hit a number of ground targets in Kosovo," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said in Brussels.

NATO steps up allegations of war crimes

While the bombing continued, NATO allies stressed the plight of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

David Scheffer, the U.S. ambassador at large responsible for war crimes issues, accused the Serbs of a "range of criminal behavior" so wide "it represents almost a textbook example of how not to wage war."

"With the exception of Rwanda in 1994 and Cambodia in 1975, you would be hard-pressed to find a crime scene anywhere in the world, since World War II, where a defenseless civilian population has been assaulted with such ferocity and criminal intent," Scheffer said.

Scheffer also repeated reports that most of the civilian deaths from NATO attacks may have come about because Serb troops deliberately placed them in harm's way.

"This has become a shell game of civilians, manipulated by Serb forces, bopped around, moved around the countryside in a shell game strategy to expose them to the risk of military conflict," he said. "And that, folks, is illegal. That's a war crime."

In London, British Defense Secretary George Robertson said a "crack in the facade of the Yugoslav regime" had appeared. Montenegrin television, he said, reported a rally of about 5,000 people in a central Serbian village demanding that Yugoslavia bring its troops home from Kosovo

In other developments:

  • Two Serb soldiers held as prisoners of war by the U.S. military in Germany were turned over to Yugoslavia on Tuesday, the Red Cross and U.S. officials said.

  • Russian Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott were to meet in Helsinki with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari for more talks on ending the crisis.

  • Italy and Germany agreed to a plan designed by the Group of Eight industrialized nations to end the Kosovo conflict; G-8 diplomats are to meet in Bonn on Wednesday.

  • A trainload of about 1,000 refugees arrived at the Macedonian border, where Serb forces turned back a similar train on Monday.

  • Montenegrin Transport Minister Jusuf Kalamperovic said Yugoslavia's federal government, which oversees the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, is trying to force Montenegro to back the war effort by preventing critical supplies from reaching it.

Brussels Bureau Chief Patricia Kelly contributed to this report.

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Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
  • Kosovo

  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from

  • F-117s arrive at Aviano to support possible NATO operations
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

  • Doctors Without Borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • The IOM Migration Web
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Tribune
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of P.R.China
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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