Friday, February 12, 1999 Published at 01:30 GMT
UK troops on Kosovo stand-by
British troops are on stand-by
UK Defence Secretary George Robertson has unveiled contingency plans to send British troops to the Serbian province of Kosovo should the warring Serbs and ethnic Albanians agree to a peace settlement.
But he added: "We will only deploy our forces in support of an operation with a clear mission and clear objectives - and alongside our allies."
The contingency plans, he said, did not pre-judge the results of the current peace talks between the two sides taking place near Paris.
Challenger tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery will be sent to the region on Monday.
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has criticised the Serbs for using delaying tactics in the negotiations.
Neither side has agreed to an initial peace agreement despite threats of Nato intervention if the talks, being jointly brokered by the French and British foreign ministers, fail.
Mr Robertson said a news blockade had been imposed on the peace talks in a bid to focus the delegates on the negotiations.
But he said: "It is clear, however, that progress is being made."
Conservative defence spokesman Robert Key backed the government's announcement saying it made "good military sense".
Nato generals are currently working on plans to send 25,000-30,000 troops to Kosovo if a peace plan is agreed.
President Clinton says he is considering sending up to 4,000 US soldiers.
The UK units which would be involved, should a deployment take place, are the King's Royal Hussars, the Irish Guards and the Fourth Regiment Royal Artillery.
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