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Friday, May 7, 1999 Published at 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK

World: Europe

Analysis: Is this the endgame?

Nato says there can be no let-up in military strikes

By World Affairs Correspondent Nick Childs

The statement which emerged from the G8 meeting is a significant step, in that it does bring the Nato and Russian positions closer together than they have been since the outset of the Alliance's air campaign.

Kosovo: Special Report
And Nato will be particularly pleased that it has won Russian acceptance of a statement that echoes very closely the Alliance's own conditions for ending the conflict, albeit in slightly modified language.

But the agreement does paper over very significant differences of detail which remain between the Alliance and Moscow.

Sticking points

Nato still insists the international security presence for Kosovo which is mentioned must have the Alliance at its core, and that a Serb withdrawal from Kosovo must be total.

A lot of work will still be needed for Nato and Russia to close the gap further, and also to turn this agreement into a mandatory UN resolution, which both sides for different reasons would like.

But the Alliance hopes the deal, by drawing in Russia, will underline Belgrade's isolation, while at the same time stiffening support for the military campaign, which appears to be wavering in some Nato countries.

And Russia will hope that it provides at least some room for manoeuvre on the negotiating front.

Search for a way out

As the military operation has dragged on, there has inevitably been a growing focus in Nato capitals on just how it can be brought to end, and a recognition that diplomacy will have to play a part, with both Russia and the United Nations having roles in finding a solution.

But Nato still insists there can be no flexibility on the substance of its demands, nor any let-up at the moment in its military strikes.

And with the positions of Nato and Belgrade still far apart, it's accepted that there's no early breakthrough in the offing.

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