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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK


China makes Kosovo peace demands

Protesters held photos of those killed in the bombing

Chinese President Jiang Zemin has placed a major obstacle in the path of the Kosovo peace initiative being pursued by Russia and the world's leading industrial countries.

Kosovo: Special Report
In his first public reaction to the Nato bombing of China's embassy in Yugoslavia last Friday, he said the UN Security Council could not discuss any peace plans for Kosovo unless Nato stopped its bombing campaign.

He condemned the Nato action as "absolute gunboat policy".

"With the bombing continuing, it is impossible for the UN Security Council to discuss any plan to solve the problem," he added.

Jill McGivering's report from Beijing includes pictures of the UK embassy under attack
His remarks came in a telephone conversation on Monday with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, whose Balkans negotiator Viktor Chernomyrdin has flown to Beijing for urgent talks.

As a permanent member of the Security Council China has the right of veto and could prevent the progress of a new peace plan for Kosovo thrashed out last week by Russia and the Group of Seven leading industrial nations.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea: Let's not lose sight of the big picture
China has made four demands of Nato, in a statement issued by Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan to the US ambassador:

  • an official apology
  • a "complete and thorough investigation"
  • a detailed public announcement of the results and
  • severe punishment for those responsible.

Earlier, Beijing postponed high level military contacts and other talks with the United States in response to the Nato bombing.

[ image: Jiang Zemin:
Jiang Zemin: "Absolute gunboat policy"
Consultations with the US on human rights, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, arms control, and international security will be halted until further notice, said its foreign ministry spokesman.

The developments come despite an apology from President Clinton, who sent a message to President Jiang expressing regret over the bombing.

German chancellor Gerhard Schröder - who is visiting China on a scheduled visit later this week - has called for an inquiry into the bombing.

Milosevic 'positive' towards G8 initiative

World Service radio discussion on how the Chinese embassy bombing will affect peace talks
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is prepared to negotiate an end to the Kosovo crisis on the basis of proposals by Russia and the G-7 countries laid out last week, a former top United Nations official said on Monday.

Yasushi Akashi, a former UN envoy to Yugoslavia, said after meeting President Milosevic that the Yugoslav leader wanted any future security force for Kosovo to be under UN auspices, small and not heavily armed. Mr Akashi said he was "very firm in his position".

Nato and Russian officials had appeared to be moving closer to a deal involving a peace-keeping force with a Nato element rather than with Nato at its core.

Quieter night

Mike Williams in Belgrade: Nato returns to many of the same targets
Serbian media reported just two Nato attacks on Sunday night, both on the southern city of Nis.

One blast was heard at the airport, another in the centre of the city and there were unconfirmed reports of a hit on the post office, a hub for telephone links in the region.

(Click here to see a map of last night's Nato strikes)

Nato said overnight military operations had been badly affected by poor weather, with just over 300 sorties flown, well below recent levels.

Nato said it had also attacked targets in Kosovo, including two tanks, 10 armoured personnel carriers and a command post.

Beijing demonstrations

[ image: The Beijing protests appear to have been initially well organised]
The Beijing protests appear to have been initially well organised
Protests have continued for a third day outside the US Embassy in Beijing, where Monday's newspapers carried the first pictures of the bombing victims.

A mixed crowd of students, executives and Buddhist monks marched past in an officially-sanctioned demonstration, throwing stones and bottles.

Many protesters have called for the downgrading of relations with the US or for them to be broken off completely.

Duncan Hewitt in Beijing: The mood has turned increasingly ugly
Britons have been urged to avoid China following angry demonstrations outside the UK embassy.

The Foreign Office says anyone intending "non-essential" travel to the country should postpone their journey until the situation has improved.

[ image: Nato thought it had hit the Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement - actually one block away]
Nato thought it had hit the Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement - actually one block away
The protesters' anger has also turned on foreign news journalists trying to report the events.

A BBC crew in Beijing was beaten and pelted with stones, accused of insulting China.

The US says an intelligence mistake, caused by faulty information, led to the bombing of the Chinese embassy.

Court case brought

Yugoslavia has begun legal action against 10 Nato countries at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Yugoslavia contends that the alliance has acted without UN Security Council authorisation, and that it has failed to protect civilians as stipulated in the Geneva Convention.

The US and the UK are expected to argue that the court has no jurisdiction to hear Yugoslavia's case.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea called the legal move "particularly cynical", accusing Yugoslav President Milosevic of responsibility for the worst violations of human rights for half a century.

But Nato has come under attack from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, who said the air campaign had failed because those killed and injured could be classified as human rights victims.

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