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Tuesday, October 13, 1998 Published at 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK


Will the deal work?

An achievement for diplomacy - backed by force

By Diplomatic Correspondent Barnaby Mason


Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus: "Deal will stand or fall on effectiveness of verification"
The deal made in Belgrade was depicted by Richard Holbrooke as the result of the collective efforts of the international community - including the Russians, who have campaigned against military action.

But will the agreement do what it is supposed to do?


[ image:  ]
The Russians played a role in helping persuade President Milosevic to accept a large outside mission to verify troop withdrawals, the end of violence and perhaps later the holding of elections in Kosovo.

But it is still a key question whether the ethnic Albanians living in miserable conditions in the hills will feel safe enough to return to their homes.

The 2,000 members of the verification mission won't have armed forces on the ground to back them up.

Risk of vulnerability

A Nato ground presence would have been much harder for Mr Milosevic to accept, and the western governments wanted to avoid committing troops if possible.


[ image:  ]
The risk is that without them, the mission will be vulnerable to challenge, delay and intimidation - as UN forces were in Bosnia.

The ultimate sanction is the threat of air strikes, but they would be more difficult to mount with large numbers of potential hostages in Kosovo.

As with the repeated confrontations with Iraq, the will to maintain the military pressure could gradually ebb away.

Mr Holbrooke did not mention the demand for co-operation with war crimes investigators - a hint that the issue will not be pushed too hard.

In the long term, everything will depend on whether a political settlement can be achieved between the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians.



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