No resolution on Yugoslav troop withdrawal talks
June 6, 1999
KUMANOVA, Macedonia (CNN) -- NATO and Yugoslav military officials were still meeting Sunday, nine hours after starting the second day of talks aimed at clarifying NATO's orders for the withdrawal of Yugoslavv forces from Kosovo.
Russia's military attache to Belgrade arrived at Kumanovo late Sunday to join the talks between NATO and Yugoslav generals, a NATO official said. He said Lt. Col. Yevgeny Barmyanchev had been invited to the talks by the Yugoslav side as an observer.
As the meetings to determine the timetable for the Yugoslav withdrawal continued, NATO missiles struck targets around Yugoslavia on Sunday.
NATO officials hope to have a six-page document outlining plans for a Yugoslav withdrawal signed by the end of the day. Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson of Britain, commander of NATO's Rapid Reaction Force, headed the negotiations for NATO: The Yugoslav military delegation was led by two deputy chiefs of staff of the Yugoslav army, Gen. Svetozar Marjanovic and Gen. Blagoje Kovacevic.
Though talks have been described as "constructive," NATO vowed to press on with its air campaign, now in its 11th week, until it sees evidence of a Serb withdrawal.
"These talks ... could take some time to conclude," said NATO spokesman Jamie Shea, "but I must stress it is in the interest of the Serbs for the signing to be as rapid as possible. The linkage is simple: We will not stop until they start, and as they are not starting their withdrawal, we are not stopping our operations."
Shea warned Yugoslav troops against "shilly-shallying or dilly-dallying" during the withdrawal, particularly for the purposes of looting as the army moves out of the Serbian province.
"Those forces will be subject to NATO air power," he said.
More than 30 NATO missiles hit targets in Kosovo over the last 24 hours, according to Serbian media, striking the cities of Pec, Prizren and Kosovo Polje.
NATO said it struck strategic targets near Vrsac, in Serbia and Pristina, Kosovo's capital. But NATO officials said they were particularly concerned with ongoing ground battles between Serb forces and Kosovo Liberation Army troops.
"The fighting isn't over yet," said NATO military spokesman Gen. Walter Jertz. "Serb forces will not halt their operations until their commanders give them the order. There is hope that will happen soon."
Serb mortar shells fell into Albania for the second day Sunday, forcing aid workers and refugees to scramble for shelter. At least one person died and several were hurt in the attack, according to Andrea Angeli, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Peacekeeping force builds up
While the withdrawal talks continued, NATO was "accelerating preparations for implementation of a peace agreement, and building up forces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to be ready to enter Kosovo as soon as the Serb forces withdraw," Shea said.
Plans call for the province to be divided into five sectors, with the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy and France each overseeing a sector.
Just what role Russian forces will play in the Kosovo peacekeeping force remains unclear. Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who helped broker the peace deal, said if Russian forces do participate, they will not be part of NATO's force.
"We have not even discussed this question," he said. "Under our law and under our morality, we will never be under NATO."
NATO's decision to continue the air campaign while the peace deal is on the table didn't sit well with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
"The main task ... is to stop bombing. After that, Russia is ready for working out the U.N. resolution, which will give the basis for post-war settlement in Yugoslavia," Ivanov said.
Correspondents Walter Rodgers, Matthew Chance and Tom Mintier contributed to this report.
NATO, Yugoslavs to discuss terms for troop withdrawal Sunday
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