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Tuesday, October 13, 1998 Published at 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK

World: Europe

Agreement in Belgrade

Ready for action: The Nato activation order is still in place

Kosovo Section
Yugoslavia has agreed to allow a 2,000-strong force into Kosovo to ensure it complies with United Nations demands.

US Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke confirmed that Belgrade is willing to allow the verification mission by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

[ image:  ]
The force will be supported by non-combat aircraft carrrying out aerial surveillance over the Serbian province.

US President Bill Clinton said the deal was "completely in accordance" with United Nations demands.

But he warned: "We will not rely on what President Milosevic says but what he does for the whole world to see.

"Nato is ready to act. It is up to him to follow through on his commitments."

James Robbins examines the tasks facing the international force entering Kosovo
Mr Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, said Mr Milosevic had agreed to a timetable for political discussions on the future of Kosovo leading to an autonomous province, with its own government institutions and police force.

And the UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, said: "This has been a vindication of our strategy of diplomacy backed up by the credible threat of force."

President Bill Clinton: "Action not words"
Mr Holbrooke said the OSCE mission will have freedom of movement and has been given guarantees of security by Belgrade.

He said that Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana is expected to fly to Yugoslavia in the next few days.

He said: "I hope this will mark a turning point in the tragic relationship between the peoples of Kosovo."

Mr Holbrooke said he hoped the deal would lead the way to "autonomy and self-determination" for the people of Kosovo, 90% of whom are ethnic Albanians.

But he also warned: "We're not out of the emergency yet. We're still in it."

Richard Holbrooke announces the Belgrade Agreement
President Milosevic told the nation in a television address that the accord removed the threat of military intervention. But his office put out a statement saying that the agreement with Mr Holbrooke guarantees Kosovo's autonomy within Serbia - less than has been demanded by Albanian leaders.

Representatives from the Albanian separatist group, the KLA, said anything short of full independence was unacceptable.

BBC correspondent Jon Devitt: "The Milosevic gloss"
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman welcomed the deal and said his country would probably take part in the observer mission.

The Operational Director of Medecins sans Frontieres, Vincent Janssens, said that any deal must give "concrete physical protection" to refugees.

Countdown continues

Nato ambassadors issued an activation order authorising air strikes after being briefed by Mr Holbrooke late on Monday.

But it included a four-day delay to allow further talks in Belgrade after the progress made on Monday.

Correspondents say Nato's decision to hold fire for 96 hours - twice as long as was earlier suggested - recognised the gains Mr Holbrooke had made and the possibility of a peaceful settlement.

Despite the agreement in Belgrade, Nato officials say the activation order remains in place.

The activation order is in effect a countdown to possible military action in four days' time. It:

  • Brings the forces of the Nato allies under the command of Nato supreme commander General Wesley Clark.
  • Deploys Nato warplanes to Italy.
  • Allows for a limited programme of missile strikes.

If military action is to go any further, the allies will have to take a further political decision.

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