Wednesday, June 24, 1998 Published at 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Rugova calls for Kosovo 'protectorate'
Ethnic Albanians protest in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo
The Kosovo ethnic Albanian leader, Ibrahim Rugova, has called for the troubled Serb province to become an international protectorate as a transitional solution ahead of full independence.
He also told Mr Rugova that he should resume talks with the Yugoslav Government immediately and without conditions.
He later returned to Belgrade for further talks with President Milosevic to try to prevent the crisis from becoming "a general war".
He said the statement appeared to signify that military action by Nato was not imminent.
A Nato spokesman, however, confirmed military action was still an option and said its planners had been instructed to come up with detailed intervention plans.
The UK Prime Minister Tony Blair also said that despite continuing diplomatic efforts, the threat of armed Nato action remained.
'Right to independence'
In a 30-minute meeting at Nato headquarters, Mr Solana told Mr Rugova that the Nato allies backed talks leading to enhanced political status for Kosovo but did not support independence.
Later he was vague when asked if he was ready to go back to the negotiating table without pre-conditions, saying it was very difficult to negotiate under such terrible conditions.
He said independence was his final objective but suggested a demilitarised international protectorate with all rights guaranteed for Kosovo's minority Serb population as a transitional solution.
Nato preparations continue
The BBC's Brussels correspondent said Nato is still continuing preparations for military intervention in case diplomatic efforts fail.
Last week Nato staged a show of air force in the region but, due to Russian opposition, the threat of air strikes seems to have receded.
Alliance diplomats say the situation on the ground does not seem as bad as during the height of a Serb military crackdown a few weeks ago.
Mr Holbrooke met armed and uniformed members of the KLA on Wednesday, the first public meeting of an American official with Kosovo's guerrillas.
Journalists travelling with him said he talked to two KLA fighters for more than 30 minutes in a village close to Kosovo's border with Albania.
He expressed anger at Yugoslav security forces' involvement in the destruction he witnessed in Decani, which suffered heavy damage during recent fighting, and likened the situation to Vietnam during the US conflict there and to Bosnia.