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Monday, June 7, 1999 Published at 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK

World: Europe

Russia sides with Serbs

US troops in Albania: Still supporting the air campaign

Russia has sided with Yugoslavia in the dispute over the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo, accusing Nato commanders of adding conditions to the peace deal.

Kosovo: Special Report
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Nato was trying to bypass the United Nations.

But at a meeting in Germany, Mr Ivanov and other foreign ministers from the G8 group of nations are reported to have reached agreement on a draft resolution on the Kosovo crisis to be put to the UN.

Reports say the resolution could go to the UN Security Council later on Monday.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea said the door remained open for further peace talks with Yugoslav generals.

BBC World Affairs Correspondent Rageh Omaar: "For the victims of the conflict, this is a disappointment"
He said that Nato commander, General Sir Michael Jackson, was ready to meet Yugoslav generals again but that talks must be based on the peace settlement agreed in Belgrade last week.

'Liaison' talks are continuing at a lower-level in the meantime.

Mr Shea added that the peace talks failed because the Yugoslav delegation had attempted to dilute the agreement put before President Slobodan Milosevic last week.

Since the collapse of talks, the alliance has stepped up airstrikes in and around Kosovo, military spokesman Major General Walter Jertz said.

And Reuters news agency reported anti-aircraft fire over Belgrade on Monday for the first time in several days.

Russian anger

The Kosovo peace plan is being discussed in Germany on Monday by the G8 foreign ministers, made up of leading industrialised countries and Russia.

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The eight ministers are also attempting to work out a UN resolution to end the Kosovo crisis.

But before the first meetings on Monday Mr Ivanov said Nato was trying to dictate the peace deal.

He said: "Nato is trying to unilaterally say that an international peacemaking force will be based on Nato forces, and have the right to use force.

"This is the UN Security Council's prerogative and we, the G8 foreign ministers, have come here specifically for working out the future Security Council resolution."

He said Nato had raised "the levels of its demands" during the weekend talks at Kumanovo, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Moscow Correspondent Andrew Harding: "Russia is clearly unhappy"
But with Russia appearing to support Serbia's version of events at the peace talks, western foreign ministers have held an extra meeting on Monday - without a Russian presence.

Our correspondent in Germany for the conference says western nations were meeting to decide whether they can press ahead with drawing up a UN resolution.

The G8 meeting had already been postponed once as talks between Nato and Yugoslavia were delayed.

The BBC's Mike Williams: "The people here have become very disillusioned with politics and politicians"
Yugoslavia's Deputy Foreign Minister Nebojsa Vujovic also blamed Nato for the deadlock.

He told Tanjug, the Yugoslav state news agency: "The host delegation tried to include points which would violate the principles of the 10-point political document.

"Our delegation was strongly opposed to this, saying that the decisions of the UN Security Council could not be prejudiced."

'No compromise'

But Nato has placed the blame for the talks' failure firmly with the Yugoslav side.

The Yugoslav authorities have so far insisted they will not agree to withdraw from Kosovo without a UN Security Council resolution and that their priority is to defend their territorial integrity.

The main areas of dispute are reported to have been over the timing of the proposed withdrawal and how many some Serbian forces would be allowed to stay in Kosovo.

[ image:  ]
UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said the Kosovo peace talks stalled because Yugoslav military commanders insisted on maintaining a contingent of up to 15,000 Serb troops in the province.

He told the BBC: "There can be no suggestion of us slipping in compromises or accepting any retreat from the document they agreed to last week.

"They agreed to the withdrawal of all forces. We want them to proceed now with the withdrawal of all forces."

Jamie Shea: "An agreement without implementation is not an agreement"
And Nato spokesman Jamie Shea reinforced the alliance's message. "General Jackson remains in Macedonia, ready to discuss implementation of the agreement but not to negotiate."

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

Heavy bombing and air-raid warnings were reported in Serbia as the talks drew to a close.

Air strikes were scaled down after President Milosevic said he would accept the joint Western-Russian plan.

Gen Jackson said air strikes would "continue and intensify" after the talks failed.

BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Bridget Kendall: "There are plenty of sticking points"
Nato military spokesman Maj Gen Jertz added the battle assessments since the the failure in Kumanovo indicated Serb forces had suffered "heavy losses" in Kosovo.

As the pullout talks in Kumanovo faltered, there were air raid alerts in every major town and city across Yugoslavia in the early hours of the morning, but the capital escaped attack.

US B-52s dropped bombs on Yugoslav armed forces near the Morina border crossing from Kosovo into Albania.

Tanjug reported 100 explosions across Kosovo, with intense missile strikes in Pristina, Pec and about 30 other targets.

Kursumlija in Serbia was also hit and bombs smashed television and radio relay towers in the centre of the country.

(Click here to see a map of forces on the ground)

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