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Sunday, June 13, 1999 Published at 01:56 GMT 02:56 UK


World: Europe

Eyewitness: Watching Nato arrive

Welcome to Kosovo: Nato arrives on the outskirts of Pristina

By Mike Williams in Pristina

Helicopter gunships took station over the convoys as Nato tanks rolled through the countryside outside the capital.

Kosovo: Special Report
In the villages, they were cheered on by Albanians left standing and waving and smiling in the clouds of dust kicked up by the tracks of the armoured vehicles.

Across the road in front of them the Albanian villagers threw flowers - the deep red roses which grow wild in the countryside here.

"Ucaj Kar!" the children shouted - their acronym for the Kosovo Liberation Army. "Ucaj Kar and Nato", the two forces which they believe have liberated them.

You could see the soldiers signalling to each other from tank to tank, pointing to right and left at the burnt-out houses of Albanians now driven from their homes.

At one village, where houses are still burning, the column stopped and a single tank nosed slowly forward, testing for enemy fire.

As Nato advanced the Yugoslav army retreated.

The remaining troops in a barracks departed for Serbia. We could hear them singing as their coaches pulled away.

Airport questions

But the Albanians' delight and relief at Nato's arrival will be tempered by the knowledge that the peacekeeping mission has hit its first obstacle even before it truly began.


Mike Williams analyses the Russian position
On the plain beneath Mount Goles is the village of Slatina, a small unremarkable place which is at the centre of international attention.

The airport there is occupied by the Russian troops who came so unexpectedly to Kosovo in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Yugoslav military police control access and a Nato delegation is on site attempting to clear up the confusion caused by the Russian intervention.

Talks took place behind closed doors, beyond the Yugoslav army guards and inside the airport boundary, which is heavily mined.

With protection like that, little news has escaped, though it is thought they are discussing the role of the Russian military, a chain of command and the future of the airport which Nato had planned to use as its headquarters.



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