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Tuesday, February 2, 1999 Published at 16:28 GMT

World: Europe

Kosovo rebels agree to talks

Kosovo rebels: Ignoring boycott call

Military leaders of the ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo say they will attend peace talks in France at the end of the week.

Kosovo Section
"We are definitely going to the talks with our proposals," said Jakup Krasniqi, spokesman for the general headquarters of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

He said the KLA's negotiators would be named on Wednesday.

The BBC's Ben Brown: "For now, the killing goes on"
His statement contrasted with remarks made only hours earlier by influential ethnic Albanian leader, Adem Demaci. Mr Demaci recommended that the rebels refuse to take part in the talks.

He said the Yugoslav Government led by President Slobodan Milosevic had consistently refused to negotiate in good faith or live up to agreements.

[ image: Adem Demaci (right): Respected, but not a top KLA leader]
Adem Demaci (right): Respected, but not a top KLA leader
BBC correspondent Jacky Rowland in Kosovo says ethnic Albanian separatist commanders in the field have shown greater enthusiasm for peace talks than the KLA's political leaders.

The other key players in the Kosovo conflict - the Serbs - have said the Serbian Parliament will decide on Thursday whether to send a delegation to the peace conference.

Adem Demaci: Talks with Serbian Government would be "non-negotiation"
Hard-liners and ultra-nationalists hold a majority in the Serbian legislature, which last year rejected foreign mediation in Kosovo.

The Contact Group - the US, Russia, the UK, France, Italy and Germany - have told the warring sides to attend peace talks in France by 6 February or face military action.

[ image:  ]
Western diplomats in Kosovo have been aware of Mr Demaci's reservations about entering negotiations with Serbia, and Tuesday's announcements did not take them completely by surprise.

The UK Government reacted to Mr Demaci's statement by saying that no faction on Kosovo's ethnic Albanian side had a veto on the peace talks.

Serbian Deputy Information Minister Miodrag Popovic: Decision on Thursday
It said it was very much in the KLA's interest to join the talks, as there could be no military solution in Kosovo.

Mr Demaci is a symbolic figure in the Kosovo independence struggle, having spent more than 25 years in Serbian jails. But he is not part of the KLA's top structure and does not have the final decision.

On the wider diplomatic front, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov reiterated his country's opposition to Nato air strikes as a way of pushing for a political settlement in Kosovo.

But he also dismissed a demand by Mr Milosevic for a United Nations Security Council meeting to try to deny Nato the right to use force against Yugoslavia.

He said the only solution for Kosovo was negotiation. He was speaking following talks in Bonn with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

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