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Friday, August 14, 1998 Published at 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK

World: Europe

Kosovo peace talks stall

Serb police in action at Glodjane village

The ethnic Albanian leader in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, has restated that there will be no peace talks with the authorities in Belgrade until Serbia stops what he called its current offensive in the province.

On Thursday Mr Rugova named a new team for the possible talks, and United States diplomats have already arrived in Kosovo to start negotiating.

However, the Albanian team does not include any members of the warring Kosovo Liberation Army, and correspondents say that unless Mr Rugova can attract KLA spokesmen into any peace talks, it will be impossible to achieve a stable ceasefire.

Mr Rugova said: "There are open seats for other representatives and politicians to be included."

'Talk is vital'

US envoy Christopher Hill has been trying to persuade ethnic Albanian rebels and politicians to join forces.

Christopher Hill: "Continuing fighting equals continuing suffering"
He said the continuing fighting in Kosovo made it imperative to start talks immediately - with or without the KLA.

Mr Hill said: "The violence must stop and it must stop now.

"There is no military solution in Kosovo. The only result of continuing fighting is continuing suffering."

Mr Hill and European diplomats hope eventually to get Mr Rugova, KLA representatives and the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, together for talks on the future of Kosovo.

First step

The ethnic Albanians' decision to try to make headway towards a negotiated autonomy was welcomed by western powers.

Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schüssel, speaking in his country's capacity as the current European Union president, said it was "a first step in the right direction".

Jeremy Cooke reports from Pristina: "Unlikely KLA will join talks soon"
He urged the government in Belgrade to start negotiations immediately.

Yugoslav Vice President Nikola Sainovic said a Serb delegation had been ready for months to resume talks, which broke off in May.

The conflict in Kosovo has escalated with Serb forces advancing on opposition territory.

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