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Friday, October 16, 1998 Published at 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK

World: Europe

More time for Milosevic

Ethnic Albanian refugees mistrust the peace agreement

Kosovo Section

Special correspondent Ben Brown: Fresh US warning to the Serbs
Nato has given the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, an additional 10 days to comply with United Nations demands for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Kosovo.

Nato ambassadors, meeting in Brussels, have set a deadline of 27 October for Serb forces to be withdrawn from the disputed province.

[ image:  ]
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Bronislaw Geremek, is continuing in his task of winning all-party support for the OSCE's mission in Kosovo.

The mission will be responsible for checking that Serbs and ethnic Albanians comply with the Belgrade Agreement: the peace plan for the territory negotiated between President Milosevic and the United States envoy, Richard Holbrooke.

Jonathan Marcus: Danger that Nato's message could appear ambiguous
On Friday morning, Mr Geremek signed an agreement with Mr Milosevic allowing for the deployment of 2,000 civilian monitors in the province - an accord which Mr Geremek said he hoped would make it possible to achieve peace in Kosovo. Mr Geremek said 800 monitors had already been pledged.

Doubts over KLA support

[ image: Nato forces will now not be mobilised for a further 10 days]
Nato forces will now not be mobilised for a further 10 days
Mr Geremek later went on to meet Kosovar Albanian leaders to try and win their support for the agreement.

The political leader Ibrahim Rugova told Mr Geremek: "I can assure you that all the people will support the OSCE mission," adding that "people in Kosovo want the international presence for their protection."

However, the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army - which operates independently of Mr Rugova's followers - has yet to give its support to the agreement.

Mr Rugova said he believed the KLA would respect the OSCE mission.

Earlier, however, a KLA spokesman said the Belgrade Agreement - which the OSCE is mandated to uphold - was not acceptible since it allowed only for the autonomy of Kosovo within Serbia, and not for full independence as demanded by the KLA.

A BBC correspondent in Kosovo says ethnic Albanians there are suspicious of any deal which they feel the West may be trying to force onto them - suspicions which will only be deepened by the extention given to the deadline for the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces.

Pull-out not complete

[ image: Serbian police remain in Kosovo]
Serbian police remain in Kosovo
Although some Yugoslav forces have withdrawn from Kosovo, others are reported to remain in the province, three weeks after a UN Security Council resolution called for their withdrawal.

"We are still far from seeing full compliance with what the international community wants," Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana said on Friday morning.

According to one analyst, over 10,000 Serbian police were deployed in the province, and it will take time for them to leave.

But our correspondent says that since the KLA has not abandoned its armed struggle, a complete withdrawal by the Serbs is unlikely.

Practicalities of peace

Many other details of the peace plan, including the security of the OSCE monitors, have not yet been spelt out.

An immediate problem for the monitors will be to make sure that the Yugoslav army and police do withdraw in sufficient numbers to satisfy Western leaders, and that the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army does not then take advantage of that situation to re-occupy areas recently regained by the Serbs.

Newspapers closed

Mr Milosevic has introduced an emergency decree banning what is described as unpatriotic and defeatist reporting.

Three daily newspapers have been closed down - the latest, Nasa Borba, on Thursday.

Exactly what constitutes unpatriotic and defeatist reporting is decided by the government, which has also banned the publishing in full of the text of the decree.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Vojislav Seselj, accused independent journalists of taking part in a propaganda war against Serbia in the service of hostile powers.

Contact Group wants UN resolution

Meanwhile, ministers from the six-nation Contact Group - including Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States - have agreed in Paris to organise a new UN resolution to strengthen the peace agreement.

A BBC correspondent in Paris says that it represents a considerable diplomatic breakthrough, because it seems Russia is now closer to the West's policy on Kosovo.

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