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Tuesday, June 1, 1999 Published at 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK

World: Europe

Chernomyrdin looking for breakthrough

Chernomyrdin says he has new proposals for peace

By Paul Anderson in Moscow

Russia's special envoy to the Balkans, Viktor Chernomyrdin, has flown to the German capital, Bonn, for talks on the Kosovo crisis with European and American leaders.

Kosovo: Special Report
The visit comes amid increasingly optimistic noises from the Russian side about an imminent breakthrough in the political process.

Mr Chernomyrdin left Moscow saying he believed this latest stage of the search for a diplomatic solution would be decisive.

He brought with him, he said, new proposals worked out by the Russian leadership but gave no details.

He is meeting the American Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and, later, the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder.

No Nato compromise

[ image: Talbott: Will he be happy with Russia's proposal?]
Talbott: Will he be happy with Russia's proposal?
Mr Chernomyrdin said the United States, Europe and Russia had an enormous desire to find a political solution to the crisis.

But - as far as Nato is concerned - that is not at the price of compromising on any of the key demands it is making of President Milosevic.

They remain the complete withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo and the repatriation of refugees under the supervision of an international force led by Nato.

Argument over ground force

President Milosevic has found most difficulty accepting the notion that a military alliance which has been bombing his country for nearly 70 days should become the force which keeps the peace there.

On Wednesday, Russia's envoy will test his resolve. He is due to fly to Belgrade with Mr Ahtisaari if the three negotiators agree on a joint stand in Bonn.

Mr Chernomyrdin said he expected positive results from the trip. This will be his fifth to the Yugoslav capital.

So far, he has returned to Moscow empty-handed, his previous optimism thwarted.

However, Mr Chernomyrdin believes this week will be different and will produce a breakthrough, which he and Russia are desperate to broker.

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