Wednesday, May 26, 1999 Published at 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Cook mission to heal Nato rifts
The potential use of ground troops has divided Nato
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has won Italy's backing for the continued bombing of Serbia on a whistle-stop tour of the UK's European Nato partners.
After his first stop in Rome, the Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said he would not press for a pause in the bombing.
"Of course none of us like the bombing. In the present circumstance, we don't see an alternative."
Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema suggested a bombing pause last week, prompting speculation about allied splits.
Mr Dini backed the UK foreign secretary's concerted attempt to show unity.
But he stressed Italy would oppose sending troops into Kosovo unless Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had conceded defeat.
Later, in Bonn, Mr Cook insisted "ethnic cleansing has no place in Europe today".
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the international community had made "substantial progress" after his talks with Mr Cook.
He added: "We have worked out way up to the door of a peace agreement."
Before his trip, Mr Cook's officials said he was keen to impress on them the need to offer President Milosevic no hint of a compromise.
Ruffled feathers within Nato
The UK ruffled feathers among its allies in Europe and across the Atlantic last week by suggesting Nato break with its previously-stated policy and send in ground troops to take over Kosovo by force - without a peace settlement with Belgrade.
However, on Sunday, Mr Cook said that Mrs Albright had endorsed the idea of deploying ground troops in Kosovo in a "non-permissive" environment.
The foreign secretary, say his officials, now wants to reassert Nato solidarity and send a message to the Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that the alliance will not compromise on its demands.
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