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Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 03:28 GMT 04:28 UK

World: Europe

Nato pledge to frontline states

Kosovo Albanian refugees wait to cross the Blace border

Nato has said it will step in if Yugoslavia attacks its neighbours for helping the alliance's military campaign against Belgrade.

Kosovo: Special Report
Speaking at the close of the Nato summit, United States President Bill Clinton said America would respond if Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic threatened other countries in the region.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea said: "In the region, Milosevic is all alone. He is a pariah in his own backyard. His neighbours are moving away from him."

BBC's Tom Carver: Nato will be around to pick up the pieces
The message was reinforced in Yugoslavia by deputy premier, Vuk Draskovic.

He said the people should know the truth that world opinion was against the Yugoslav stance on Kosovo.

In an interview with the private television station Studio B, he said Russia was not going to help them militarily and that Nato was not on the verge of defeat.

He called on the state leadership to "stop lying to the people in Serbia and finally tell them the truth".

BBC's John Simpson in Belgrade: Just starting to see a more rational approach
Mr Draskovic - a former opposition figure who joined the government of President Milosevic this year - also said he would like to see a United Nations force deployed in Kosovo.

In an interview with the BBC, he said a settlement to the Kosovo conflict must be based on a resolution proposed by Russia and the Western nations at the UN Security Council.

Phone diplomacy

Russian President Boris Yeltsin earlier briefed Mr Clinton on Russian efforts to mediate in the conflict.

President Clinton: "Determined to intensify efforts"
Speaking on the phone for more than an hour, Mr Clinton told Mr Yeltsin that his involvement was constructive, and said he would stay personally engaged with him.

US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, has been sent to Moscow, where he is expected to be briefed by the former Russian Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, on the recent talks with President Milosevic.

'Oil embargo stays'

Mr Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, said nothing in Mr Clinton's conversation with Mr Yeltsin suggested that Russia would be exempt from the proposed Nato oil embargo on Yugoslavia.

However, in an attempt to avoid a blockade, the Montenegrin Government has offered to allow international monitors to oversee oil imports into the country.

Government sources admit that oil tankers are getting through to the port of Bar on the Adriatic coast, but insist that the fuel is for use in Montenegro not Serbia.

Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said monitors could control of the delivery and distribution of oil imports.

Leaders in Montenegro - Serbia's partner in the federal republic of Yugoslavia - fear a total blockade would destabilise the country and pave the way for a pro-Serbian coup.

Refugees on the move

In Kosovo itself, 56 refugees are reported to have been killed by Serb forces in three villages in Lipljane.

The United Nations aid agency, the UNHCR, said ethnic Albanian refugees arriving at the main Macedonian border crossing of Blace told aid workers that armed Serbs had swept through the villages, killing and raping as they went.

The United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, is to start immunisation refugees in Macedonian camps on Monday morning as fears grow that overcrowding in could lead to the spread of major diseases.

Around 800 refugees have been airlifted out of Macedonia and taken to Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey.

Nato has said that 450,000-750,000 refugees remain displaced in the province.

(Click here to see a map of last night's Nato strikes)

The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Cornelio Sommaruga, has visited Serbia's second largest city, Novi Sad, to see the damage done by Nato bombing.

[ image: Serb rescue workers search the debris in Belgrade]
Serb rescue workers search the debris in Belgrade
He said he was deeply affected by the extent of the destruction he found there, particularly at the three bridges over the Danube.

Mr Sommaruga, who is on a three-day visit to Yugoslavia, is to meet Serbia's President Milosevic on Monday to try to secure the return of the Red Cross to Kosovo.

He has also confirmed that he will press for access to the three detained American soldiers.

More Apaches requested

With Nato determined to maintain the pressure on Serbia, the organisation's Supreme Commander in Europe, General Wesley Clark, flew to Albania on Sunday.

He met some of the 5,000 US soldiers based at the military airport outside the capital, Tirana.

The troops are supporting US Apache attack helicopters, which Nato's Secretary-General, Javier Solana, has said could go into action this week.

General Clark has reportedly requested Washington to double the number of Apaches to 48.

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