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Friday, May 28, 1999 Published at 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK

World: Europe

Nato planes pile on pressure

Nato has been targeting Belgrade's power supply

Nato says it will take advantage of favourable weather to increase the intensity of its bombing raids against Yugoslavia.

Kosovo: Special Report
The warning came as Russia's Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin held 10 hours of talks with the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, over the Kosovo crisis.

Speaking at the daily Nato briefing in Brussels, military spokesman General Walter Jertz said a total of 792 missions had been flown in the previous 24 hours - the highest number so far.

He said the intensity of the bombardment would increase still further, as the weather forecast was good for the rest of the month.

"Let me tell you what Milosevic already knows - for the next five days the weather is on our side," he said.

Chernomyrdin 'very satisfied'

Following the talks between Mr Chernomyrdin and Mr Milosevic, Yugoslavia reiterated that it accepted the general principles Russia and the seven other G8 nations drew up this month in Bonn.

In a statement, Belgrade said it accepted the declaration as a basis for negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, but remained opposed to the deployment of foreign troops in Kosovo.

Mike Williams in Belgrade: "We need to treat the statements with a degree of scepticism."
The BBC correspondent in Belgrade, Mike Williams, says the statement is very vague and contains nothing new.

As he left Belgrade, Mr Chernomyrdin said he was "very satisfied" with talks, and said he would return to Yugoslavia next week with European Union representative, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.

The Russian news agency Itar-Tass quoted him as saying he had reached a better understanding with Mr Milosevic.

Mr Chernomyrdin said before Friday's talks that further negotiation would be pointless if Nato did not stop the air strikes.

Belgrade blacked out

Nato forces are continuing to pile on the pressure against Serb forces and infrastructure in Yugoslavia. Three civilians were reported killed.

The BBC's John Simpson: "Many of Milosevic's political enemies think the indictment was a mistake"
General Jertz said 310 of the latest missions were strike sorties and that "better numbers" would be coming up in the next few days.

Most of Belgrade and large parts of Serbia were without electricity on Friday after Nato planes bombed two electrical transformer yards and four transmission towers near the capital.

The continuing clear weather and the ever-increasing number of warplanes at Nato's disposal had also enabled it to hit hard against Serb positions in Kosovo.

(Click here to see a map of latest Nato strikes)

At least 20 artillery pieces, as well as tanks, multiple rocket launchers and a number of anti-artillery pieces, had been hit.

The alliance also continued its attacks against airfields, military storage dumps, fuel depots and television and radio transmission installations throughout Serbia.

'People are dying'

Before the talks, Mr Chernomyrdin expressed his concerns. "We have been talking for over a month now, but there is no result at all," he said.

"If things continue this way, talks will become meaningless."

The Russian envoy has warned that, unless the air campaign is halted soon, he will advise President Yeltsin to:

  • Suspend Russian participation in the negotiating process

  • End all military-technological co-operation with the West

  • Veto United Nations resolutions on Yugoslavia

[ image:  ]
Mr Chernomydin's mission was complicated by Thursday's indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for alleged crimes against humanity.

"Slobodan Milosevic is a legitimately-elected president of Yugoslavia. We dealt, are dealing and will be further dealing with him," he said.

The pair have been taking part in tripartite talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, although there has been no breakthrough on the make-up of a potential peacekeeping force.

Food parcels confiscated

Meanwhile the Yugoslav army has been stopping aid reaching Kosovo and confiscating food parcels, according to Nato spokesman Jamie Shea.

Of 12 humanitarian convoys in Yugoslavia on Friday, not one was in Kosovo, he said, and 28 lorries were being held up at the Montenegran border in a dispute over documents.

"A lot of the food has been directly confiscated by the Yugoslav army," he said.

The United Nations mission that visited Kosovo this week also reported seeing World Food Programme food parcels on sale in a shop.

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