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Thursday, May 6, 1999 Published at 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK


World: Europe

Kosovo peace plan takes shape

Macedonia has closed its main border crossing with Yugoslavia

The Russian foreign minister says he believes a set of principles will soon be agreed to end the Kosovo crisis.

Kosovo: Special Report
Igor Ivanov, arriving in Bonn for a meeting with his colleagues from the G7 industrialised nations, said: "I think the meeting ... will be able to agree on the basic principles for politically normalising the situation in Kosovo."

Russia has been coming under increasing pressure to agree a framework to end the conflict.


World Affairs Correspondent Nick Childs: "Officials hope the gap can be closed further."
US President Bill Clinton, speaking to correspondents in Germany, said he would welcome Russian participation in an international force for Kosovo.

He said such a force, with Nato at its core, would offer genuine protection for the people of Kosovo.

He also said he thought President Milosevic of Yugoslavia was moving closer to Nato's demands for resolving the Kosovo conflict.

President Clinton said there could be an agreement without Mr Milosevic being forced from power. The alternative, he said, would be for the international community to declare war and march on Belgrade, which had never been its aim.


President Clinton: "A determined effort to destroy records of people's presence in Kosovo"
Speaking to refugees at the Ingelheim refugee camp, President Clinton told them that what had been done could not be undone but they had not been "forgotten or abandoned".

"You will go home again in safety and freedom, he told them."

Kosovo leader in Italy

Mystery surrounds Yugoslavia's decision to allow the moderate Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to travel to Italy.


[ image: Ibrahim Rugova (left) with the Italian prime minister]
Ibrahim Rugova (left) with the Italian prime minister
Mr Rugova, who has reportedly been living under house arrest in Pristina, was taken to Rome with members of his family on an Italian Government plane.

He went straight into talks with Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema.

The moderate leader has been calling for an end to Nato military action and a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis, but western governments say he has been under the control of Belgrade.


David Willey in Rome: "There is intense speculation here about President Milosevic's motives."
Italian officials described Mr Rugova's foreign trip as an important signal from President Milosevic that should not be ignored.

BBC Correspondent in Belgrade, Jacky Rowland, says President Milosevic may feel that Mr Rugova's peace attempts will be more credible if he speaks from exile.

Clinton provides support

President Clinton - on the second day of his European visit - is due to hold talks with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder - a meeting intended to boost the German leader's position, as his government faces growing public opposition to the war.

The German Chancellor's Green Party allies are deeply split ahead of a special party conference on Kosovo that some fear could bring down the governing coalition.

On Wednesday, Mr Clinton told American soldiers in Germany that Nato would continue and intensify its air campaign against Yugoslavia, unless President Milosevic withdrew his forces from Kosovo.

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

The Yugoslav media says Nato forces continued their air strikes on Wednesday night, attacking fuel depots in the southern Serbian city of Nis.

The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said a medical storage facility was also destroyed and residential property damaged.

The central Serbian town of Uzice was also said to have been attacked. Nato has not yet given details of its operations.

Macedonian border closed

The US Government has appealed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to re-open its Blace border crossing.

Hundreds of Kosovo refugess were prevented from entering the country after the border was shut on Wednesday.


Rageh Omaar explains why Macedonia has closed its border crossing with Yugoslavia
Officials have demanded that Western governments do more to share the refugee burden immediately.

Macedonia, a tenth of whose population is now Kosovo refugees, says it will allow in only as many as the West airlifts out of the country.

BBC correspondent Paul Wood - reporting from Skopje - says the move could reflect disappointment in Macedonia at the size of a special aid package agreed by a World Bank summit.

International donors pledged more than $250m to Macedonia.

The new aid was announced by Macedonia's Finance Minister Boris Stojmenov and World Bank and European officials after a meeting in Paris intended to provide a rapid response to the danger to Macedonia's fragile economy.


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