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The BBC's Nick Thorpe
"Some of the rebels believe they can continue this indefinitely"
 real 56k

James Pardew, US Envoy to Macedonia
"The responsibility for solving this conflict rest with the Macedonian leaders"
 real 56k

Georgii Trendafilov, Macedonian Defence Ministry
"We must defend ourselves against Albanian terrorists"
 real 28k

Azif Pollezhani, Albanian DPP
"I am afraid there will be no sustainable ceasefire without contact with the NLA"
 real 28k

Monday, 2 July, 2001, 05:06 GMT 06:06 UK
Fighting rages in northern Macedonia

Heavy fighting has erupted around the northern Macedonian city of Tetovo following the capture of four nearby villages by ethnic Albanian rebels.

One Macedonian soldier was killed when mortar shells slammed into an army position on a hill overlooking the city.

A US State Department envoy, James Pardew, is meeting top politicians in Macedonia on Monday in an effort to secure a truce.

He is joining his European Union counterpart, Francois Leotard, in a mission to negotiate a general ceasefire in the four-month-old conflict. That could pave the way for Nato troops to disarm the rebels.

The hills around Tetovo have been a battleground since February.

Villages near Kosovo border occupied by rebels

Macedonian helicopter gunships went into action at Radusa near the border with Kosovo and there was also fighting near rebel-held villages north of Kumanovo.

Eyewitnesses said that some 600 residents of four villages near the Kosovo border - Setole, Varvara, Brezno and Otunje - were moved out by armed men with balaclavas and blackened faces.

Local media reported that a 58-year-old former army officer was killed in Brezno after refusing to leave.

Rebel demands

The BBC's Nick Thorpe in Skopje says that with the rebels attacking and occupying new territory the Macedonian Government is highly unlikely to make further concessions to them.

James Pardew
Pardew took part in negotiations with ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia

But without a proper ceasefire in place Nato will not deploy troops in Macedonia.

Nato has almost completed preparations to send more than 3,000 troops to help disarm the rebels.

But the rebels say they will only surrender their weapons if a political settlement is reached which grants substantial concessions to the Albanian community.

US negotiator

Mr Pardew has Balkans experience as a senior regional adviser at the US State Department.

He was involved in negotiating a peaceful end to the conflict in Serbia's Presevo Valley, where ethnic Albanian guerrillas recently laid down their arms.

Reuters news agency quoted German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping as saying on Sunday that Bonn would send several hundred troops to Macedonia as part of the force.

The US State Department has already said Washington is prepared to offer logistical, medical and other support to the Nato force.

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See also:

30 Jun 01 | Europe
Macedonia brings in war tax
29 Jun 01 | Europe
Nato approves Macedonia force
27 Jun 01 | Media reports
Macedonian president 'guilty of success'
26 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Straw cancels Macedonia visit
28 May 01 | Europe
The Albanian fund-raising machine
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