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Thursday, June 10, 1999 Published at 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK

World: Europe

Nato ends bombing

Serb forces have 11 days to pull out

Nato has suspended its 11-week bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, and is preparing for peacekeeping forces to enter Kosovo.

Kosovo: Special Report
Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana gave the order for the campaign to be suspended after the alliance verified that Yugoslav troops were beginning to withdraw from Kosovo.

The United Nations Security Council is now meeting to vote on a resolution formally endorsing the Kosovo peace agreement.

Announcing the suspension, Mr Solana said: ''I urge all parties to the conflict to seize this opportunity for peace.

''The violence must cease immediately. The Yugoslav security forces must withdraw and all armed Kosovo groups must demilitarise. Violence or non-compliance by any party will not be tolerated.''

Nato Secretary General Javier Solana: "The violence must cease immediately"
He said the first troops of the international peacekeeping force could deploy in Kosovo on Friday.

In Belgrade, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic made a broadcast to the nation for the first time since the air strikes began.

He praised the Yugoslav forces and his own policies which, he said, showed that Yugoslavia had the greatest army in the world.

The president said the international troops to be based in Kosovo would be under United Nations' command.

The BBC's Janet Barrie: "Separate commands could lead to the partition of Kosovo"
Mr Milosevic said that, by agreeing to this, Yugoslavia contributed to the re-establishing of the UN's authority on the international scene.

US President Bill Clinton welcomed the suspension and said Nato was now "stronger and more united than ever".

Russian President Boris Yeltsin hailed the news as ''a step in the right direction'', but said the bombing campaign should be halted permanently.

Security Council vote

The Security Council resolution will open the doors for a Nato-led peace implementation force to enter Kosov to begin preparing for hundreds of thousands of refugees to return.

[ image: Belgrade citizen celebrates end to bombing]
Belgrade citizen celebrates end to bombing
The 15 Security Council ambassadors are expected to vote after first meeting behind closed doors.

China has said it will not veto the resolution, although it may still abstain.

Ambasasor Shen Guofeng said China's main demands had been met by the resolution, which he said reaffirmed the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the resolution of international conflict.

Russia and China had demanded an end to the bombing of Yugoslavia before agreeing to consider the deployment of an international force.

There have been no strikes against Yugoslav targets since the agreement was signed on Wednesday night.

But Nato has warned Belgrade that strikes will resume if Yugoslav troops do not keep to the withdrawal timetable.

(Click here to see a map showing timetable of Serb withdrawal)

[ image:  ]
Serb forces are now being given 11 days to withdraw completely from Kosovo.

The province has been divided into three zones, and by the end of Thursday, the Yugoslavs have to pull back from the northern zone.

Nato troops are poised to go in immediately after the Yugoslav withdrawal, preventing a power vacuum that Yugoslavia says could be exploited by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

The Pentagon has said nearly 4,000 heavily armed US troops are heading towards Kosovo, ready to begin the task of clearing mines and rebuilding bridges.

Some 18,500 Nato troops - more than one-third of the projected total force - are already on the ground in neighbouring Macedonia.

Russian involvement in the K-For peacekeeping force is still under discussion, but the US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, said on Thursday that it would not be possible for Russia to have a separate sector in Kosovo.

Acts of vengeance

A senior officer of the KLA has said that Serb units opened fire on his soldiers, as they were withdrawing from a village in southern Kosovo.

The spokesman said KLA soldiers returned the fire.

There has been no independent confirmation of this report, but Nato has held extensive contacts with the KLA to try to ensure it does not attack retreating Serb forces.

The alliance has also warned that it will be watching closely to see that a ceasefire remains in effect.

Tough tasks to come

While Nato will deal with military issues, the UN has been given the massive task of setting up an interim civil administration inside Kosovo.

The UN is expected to handle policing and the return of refugees, and to call on the assistance of others, such as the European Union, in reconstructing Kosovo's shattered infrastructure and setting up new democratic institutions.

Insiders say the job will be one of the most difficult and challenging peacekeeping operations ever undertaken by the international community.

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