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Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK

World: Europe

Doubts over Milosevic-Rugova meeting

Yugoslav news agency Tanjug released photos of the reported meeting

Doubts have been cast on footage shown by Serbian television of a meeting in Belgrade between President Slobodan Milosevic and the senior Kosovo Albanian political leader, Ibrahim Rugova.

Kosovo: Special Report
The television commentary said the two men signed an agreement on a peaceful solution for Kosovo.

The pictures carried Thursday's date, but western diplomatic sources in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia say they have credible information to suggest that the meeting did not take place and that the film is fraudulent.

The diplomats say that, according to a "credible person inside Kosovo", Mr Rugova is still - as previously reported - in hiding in Kosovo.

The BBC's John Simpson:Milosevic wearing the same clothes on Thursday's two meetings
The BBC's correspondent in Macedonia, Paul Wood, says it is difficult to know which version of the story is true and both claims should be treated with scepticism.

BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson in Belgrade says the footage may be genuine, as President Milosevic was wearing the same clothes he had on earlier on Thursday, when he met an envoy from the Vatican.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Skopje: "There is a propaganda war going on"
Mr Rugova is head of the Kosovo Democratic League (KDL), the largest moderate group representing Kosovo Albanians.

He took part in the Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet, France in February, and in Paris last month.

President Milosevic and Mr Rugova last met on 15 May last year.

KLA: 'Act of treason'

Kosovo Albanian rebels denounced the moderate Albanian leader for apparently agreeing to meet President Milosevic.

Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader Hashin Thaci said statements attributed to Mr Rugova after the meeting "voluntary or imposed, are seriously damaging the national cause".

"Rugova's travel to Belgrade and the shaking hands with the head of the criminals Milosevic is a direct attack against the fight of Kosovo people, against Nato, against United States and the Contact Group," he said.

He warned that "such anti-national actions of Mr Rugova will be severely condemned."

KLA spokesman Jakup Krasniqi said he believed Mr Rugova was forced to make his comments.

"But if he has declared this consciously, he has committed an act of high treason against the nation," Mr Krasniqi said.

'Everything must stop' - Rugova

On Wednesday, Serb television showed an interview with Mr Rugova at his home in Pristina, dispelling rumours that he had been killed or imprisoned.

He said he was living under the protection of the Serbian police.

Fears had been expressed for his safety after reports that a number of moderate Kosovo Albanian politicians and human rights workers had been rounded up.

Asked what he thought about the Nato bombing raids, aimed at forcing the Yugoslav leadership to accept the Kosovo peace plan signed by Mr Rugova and his colleagues, he said: "The bombing must stop. Everything should stop."

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