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Tuesday, March 2, 1999 Published at 00:11 GMT

World: Europe

Milosevic rejects peace force

OSCE chairman Vollebaek and President Milosevic far apart over Kosovo deal

Peter Biles: "The recent events have shown that there is much need for a peace keeping force"
President Slobodan Milosevic has flatly rejected the latest attempt to secure agreement on a draft peace deal for Kosovo.

Knut Vollebaek, who is chairman of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, was trying to persuade President Milosevic to withdraw his objections to an international military force in Kosovo to implement a political settlement.

Kosovo Section
"In order to be honest here I should say that Milosevic rather flatly rejected" such a force, Mr Vollebaek told a news conference after his meeting in Belgrade with the Yugoslav leader.

'Failure does not augur well'

The BBC Correspondent in Belgrade, Jacky Rowland, says the failure of this latest mission by the OSCE chairman does not augur well for the next round of Kosovo peace talks, which is due to start in two weeks' time.

Jacky Rowland in Belgrade: "Some kind of implementation force will be essential"
The OSCE chairman said that such a force "was not a violation" of the sovereign rights of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," because Nato forces would be deployed at the "invitation" of the Yugoslav government.

"We need a robust international presence on the ground. I urged Milosevic, (Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin) Jovanovic and (Serbian President Milan) Milutinovic to accept such a presence and invite such troops," Mr Vollebaek said.

Tolerable presence

President Milosevic maintains the only tolerable international presence in the province is the OSCE's Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), a communique issued by the official agency Tanjug said.

From Belgrade Mr Vollebaek is going to Kosovo, where American mediators say ethnic Albanian leaders are indicating they will accept the draft peace deal when talks resume in France on 15 March.

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