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Sunday, February 21, 1999 Published at 00:46 GMT

World: Europe

Contact Group statement - full text

Here is the text of the statement by the six-nation Contact Group extending the deadline for Kosovo peace negotiators until Tuesday.

"A fortnight ago, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and Serb delegation and the Kosovar delegation summoned by the Contact Group to meet, agreed to come to Rambouillet.

"The aim of these negotiations was to reach an interim agreement on substantial autonomy for Kosovo while respecting the FRY's national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The purpose was to allow the inhabitants of Kosovo to live again in peace.

Last week in Paris, we decided to extend these negotiations by one additional week. They were to end at noon today (Saturday).

No effort has been spared either by the three negotiators or by the member states of the Contact Group to achieve this goal.

"Very substantial progress"

Today, Contact Group ministers heard the parties and the report of the negotiators. Very substantial progress has been made in reaching agreement on the framework and political chapters of the interim agreement for peace and self-government in Kosovo.

At the request of the parties, we believe that this justifies an ultimate effort to finalise as a whole the interim agreement and the proposed arrangements for an international military and civilian presence in Kosovo, if so agreed by the parties, to implement and guarantee the interim agreement.

This work must be completed by 3:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Tuesday 23 February, 1999.

Ministers recalled that they had spelt out in London on 29 January and Paris on 14 February, that those responsible for the failure of the talks would be held accountable."

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