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Tuesday, June 23, 1998 Published at 23:24 GMT 00:24 UK

World: Europe

US envoy warns against Kosovo war

Richard Holbrooke (left) met President Milosevic at "a critical moment"

The American envoy to the Balkans, Richard Holbrooke has had four hours of talks on the Kosovo crisis with the Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Richard Holbrooke's comments after his meeting with President Milosevic (30")
The American envoy did not comment on the outcome of his meeting with President Milosevic in Belgrade, and repeated that his mission in the area was to try and prevent the crisis from becoming "a general war."

Correspondents said Mr Holbrooke would warn President Milosevic that he faces possible military action by Nato unless Serbian security forces are withdrawn from Kosovo.

Mr Holbrooke continues his Balkan tour, with a visit to Kosovo.

Prevent a general war

Richard Holbrooke: "Our goal is to see if we can prevent the fighting in Kosovo" (16")
Earlier, speaking in the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, the American envoy said the fighting in Kosovo must be prevented from escalating into a war.

[ image: Mr Holbrooke said he had a
Mr Holbrooke said he had a "productive meeting" with the Kosovar Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova (left) in Skopje
Mr Holbrooke discussed the crisis with Macedonian leaders and also with the moderate leader of the Kosovar Albanians, Ibrahim Rugova.

He voiced strong support for the territorial integrity of Macedonia, which has a large ethnic Albanian minority.

"We have to prevent the events in Kosovo from escalating into a general war," said Mr Holbrooke.

He added: "That goal will not be easy to achieve."

Nato 'narrows the military options'

Meanwhile the US State Department spokesman James Rubin said the United States and its allies were pursuing a "serious diplomatic process" while Nato planned for possible military action in Kosovo.

The American spokesman said Nato was expected this week "to narrow the military options and begin to try to flesh them out."

But he said that he is "not signalling that we are on the verge of a decision."

Greece and Macedonia warn against Nato action

The fears of a wider Balkan conflict have brought together historical rivals Macedonia and Greece in an appeal for a peaceful solution in Kosovo.

After talks in the Greek capital Athens, the foreign ministers from the two countries warned of the potential dangers of Nato military action and called on the West to listen to the "voice of logic."

The Greek Foreign Minister, Theodoros Pangalos, said he would like to tell "those in comfortable capitals in the West and north who find pleasure in games of war that enough blood was shed because of rashness and amateurishness in Bosnia."

His Macedonian counterpart, Blagoj Handziski, emphasised that a diplomatic solution should be sought within Yugoslavia.

"Kosovo is a province of Serbia," he said and warned that "any change of borders will mean all-out war" in the Balkans.

"We condemn both the activities of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army and Serb forces in Kosovo," said Mr Handziski.

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