Peace talks with Milosevic to resume Thursday
World Court 'concerned' over bombing campaign
June 2, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Talks between Russian and European envoys and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic ended Wednesday night and will resume Thursday, a spokesman said.
Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari were to present to Milosevic a plan to end the Kosovo crisis. Their trip from Bonn, Germany, was delayed earlier Wednesday by what Russian news agencies said were last-minute U.S. proposals that were "partially unacceptable" to Russia.
Before leaving Bonn, Chernomyrdin said he was proposing a peacekeeping force in Kosovo with Russian and NATO troops under separate commands. But NATO spokesman Jamie Shea downplayed the idea.
"Let's see how we come out on this one," Shea said at a Wednesday morning briefing. "As far as NATO is concerned, we are talking about a single force with unity of command, robust rules of engagement and a common approach throughout Kosovo."
The chief obstacles to an agreement are NATO's insistence on a Kosovo peacekeeping force with its own troops at the core and the number of Yugoslav troops who will be allowed to remain in Kosovo at the end of the conflict.
Earlier, Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Chernomyrdin's spokesman, Valentin Sergeyev, as saying that Chernomyrdin delayed his departure for Belgrade after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott proposed several changes in the plan that "were not agreed (to) or included earlier."
Sergeyev offered no details of the changes Talbott put on the table, but the three envoys continued their talks for several hours.
Chernomyrdin said there was a "realistic chance" that the peace plan he, Ahtisaari and Talbott finally agreed to would bring about peace in Kosovo.
"We have just finished a very difficult negotiating process. We have found a common approach," he said. "We underlined the principle that Kosovo is part of Yugoslavia. The peacekeeping process should be under U.N. auspices. We underlined that we need to create the conditions (for refugees) to return and live in safety."
Chernomyrdin said it was "most important" that a document between Yugoslavia and NATO "covering withdrawal of Serbian forces and the timing of the deployment of peacekeepers" be worked out.
Afterward, "a cease-fire will be declared," and that would be followed by a U.N. Security Council resolution, the Russian diplomat said.
Early this week, Yugoslavia signaled its readiness to accept the "principles" for a peace plan agreed to by the G-8 industrialized nations, prompting intensified peace efforts by Russia, the European Union and the United States.
NATO's relentless bombing campaign continued overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Wednesday morning that the bombing could "end as soon as (Milosevic) accepts our key conditions," which Cook said could be summed up in 10 words.
"Serb forces out, NATO forces in, the refugees go home," he said. "And those 10 words are not just NATO's bottom line, they are the refugees' bottom line."
Late Tuesday, powerful explosions rocked the Belgrade suburbs of Batajnica, where a military airport is located, and Lipovicka Suma, home to a communications center.
Military barracks in Obrenovac, near Belgrade, were hit during the raids, and power was out throughout much of the Yugoslav capital.
There were reports of attacks in Pancevo; Nis, Yugoslavia's third largest city; and the Kosovo capital of Pristina, as well as in the Serb towns of Cuprija and Ruma. Studio B said a key highway between Pancevo and Belgrade was hit.
NATO on Wednesday morning said it struck hard at Serb forces deployed in Kosovo, destroying a significant amount of artillery during Day 70 of Operation Allied Force.
NATO aircraft struck at least 32 pieces of artillery, nine armored personnel carriers, eight mortar positions, six armored vehicles, four other military vehicles, a SA-6 SAM site and assorted revetted positions. The heaviest strikes against Serb forces in Kosovo took place in the vicinity of Planeja and Mount Pastrik.
Other targets hit included an electrical power transmission tower near Belgrade, a military barracks at Obrenovac, and an air defense command center at Novi Sad.
Also hit were AM radio broadcast stations at Ruma and Srbobran, a television/FM relay site at Banjska, a radio relay site at Novi Pazar, bridges in Pirot, a petroleum refueling station at Marash, a petroleum storage site at Sombor and an ammunitions storage site at Kursumlija.
NATO aircraft flew 575 sorties, including 197 strike sorties and 70 enemy air defense-suppression missions. The weather in the operating region was mixed Tuesday, leading to the cancellation of some sorties. All NATO aircraft returned safely. Allied Force operations are under way on Day 71.
Meanwhile, in The Hague, the U.N. World Court refused a Yugoslav request to halt the bombing, but said it was "concerned" about the legality of NATO's campaign.
"The court is profoundly concerned about the use of force in Yugoslavia. Under the present circumstances, such use raises very serious issues of international law," said presiding Judge Christopher Weeramantry.
Yugoslavia had sued 10 nations in the World Court over NATO's bombing campaign, charging them with genocide. But the court tossed out the complaint against the United States and Spain Wednesday, saying it could not "exercise jurisdiction" in the case involving NATO airstrikes.
Weeramantry said both the United States and Spain had opted out of a clause in the Genocide Convention that allowed any party to request a hearing in the World Court over disputes arising from the international agreement.
A final ruling in the remaining eight cases could take years.
Russian, EU envoys to propose peace deal to Milosevic
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