Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Yeltsin threatens Kosovo talks
Diplomatic hopes had risen as tensions eased in China
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has warned that Moscow might pull out of Yugoslav peace efforts if its mediation work continues to be ignored.
The head of the Russian Security Council, Vladimir Putin, said Russia was unhappy playing the role of a courier, merely taking proposals from one country to another.
BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Barnaby Mason says that if the Russian remarks are meant seriously, it would destroy any chance of setting up a UN-sanctioned military force for Kosovo.
Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana said he hoped Russia would not pull out pf the negotiating process.
Mr Yeltsin's comments cast a shadow over talks in Moscow between Russia's special envoy to Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott.
But the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said Russia was worried that Nato would ruin efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis by pushing on with its air strikes.
Nato leaders have said there must be a concrete sign of their demands being met before they can end the campaign.
The alliance said on Wednesday it had carried out its busiest attacks so far the previous night.
Nato said its planes attacked bridges and airfields in Serbia, while in Kosovo, tanks and armoured vehicles were destroyed.
In a separate development, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said it is facing a drastic shortage of money for relief efforts among Kosovo-Albanian refugees.
Mr Schröder, on a one-day visit to Beijing, said: "I think the Chinese leaders have very much understood that I am very, very serious indeed when I express my emotions of compassion, sadness and my feelings of commitment to the families of the victims."
He met Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, and said he had apologised for the bombing on behalf of Germany and Nato.
For its part, the Chinese Government has been showing signs of softening its criticism of the alliance campaign following the attack on its Belgrade embassy, which killed 3 people and injured 20 others.
It also dropped calls for an official UN investigation of the bombing, and for those responsible to be punished.
In a further sign of easing tension, Beijing has been showing signs that it might be prepared to join a proposed UN peace force in the province. However, it emphasised that it would not consider any peace plan for Kosovo until the Nato bombing stopped.
However, Mr Schröder said China was resolute in its demand that Nato end air strikes on Yugoslavia before it would support a peace deal.
"I'm not trying to conceal that there are differences of assessment here," the German chancellor said.
A special plane carrying the victims' ashes, along with more than 20 injured and China's special investigation team, was met at Beijing Airport by a guard of honour and the Chinese vice-president, Hu Jintao.
Other top stories
(click here to return)