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Tuesday, April 13, 1999 Published at 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK

World: Europe

US and Russia offer hope

East meets West to make their point

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov have said some progress has been made on finding a settlement to the Kosovo crisis.

Kosovo: Special Report
The pair met in an attempt to reconcile differences between the two countries over Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia. Russia is a traditional ally of the Serbs, and President Boris Yeltsin has warned that Nato's actions could lead to a world war.

After a longer than expected meeting in Oslo, Mr Ivanov said: "We agreed to continue our diplomatic efforts to get a political settlement" to the Kosovo crisis.

The BBC's Janet Barrie: Russia could play a key role in resolving the crisis
Mrs Albright said they had reached an "agreement on many of the basic principles" for an end to the crisis in Kosovo, but not on an international force for the Yugoslav province.

As the meeting was being held in Oslo, the Albanian Government said there had been a Yugoslav incursion into northern Albania.

Ministers confirmed that Serbian forces had crossed into the remote Tropoje district of northern Albania and that heavy shelling could be heard.

Russian role

[ image:  ]
Before her meeting with the Russian foreign minister, Mrs Albright said Nato wanted Russia to be part of the solution to the crisis.

Correspondents say Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is anxious to use the summit in Oslo to secure a Russian role as Balkans peacemaker.

UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook also said he wanted Russia to be involved in a solution to the crisis, possibly in a peacekeeping force.

Russia describes the meeting in Oslo as important, but says it must not be seen as a last chance to prevent the conflict in the Balkans from escalating.

Yeltsin warning

Vuk Draskovic: "Nato cannot kill all Serbs. Serbs cannot defeat Nato"
President Yeltsin has specifically warned against Nato sending in ground troops.

Washington again ruled out such a move on Monday, but a US State department spokesman said contingency plans for Nato troops to go in even without a peace agreement were being studied.

Mrs Albright's meeting on Monday with a representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was also expected to be discussed with Mr Ivanov.

A senior US official said she had rebuffed a request to supply the separatist guerrilla group with anti-tank arms.

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