Tuesday, June 1, 1999 Published at 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
UK cautious on Kosovo deal
Air strikes continue until a deal is struck, the UK says
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must be judged on his actions rather than his words, UK Defence Secretary George Robertson has said.
But Mr Robertson told the Ministry of Defence daily briefing on Tuesday that President Milosevic's indication may be an attempt to "ferment disunity" within Nato.
Mr Robertson said: "He has broken promise after promise. His track record leads to one conclusion: We must not and cannot trust his words.
Although Serbia had previously issued similar statements, it was the first time acceptance of the G8 terms had come from the top of the regime, sparking hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough.
The crucial factor will be what sort of international military presence President Milosevic is ready to accept in Kosovo.
Mr Robertson said President Milosevic had to accept an international peacekeeping force with a heavily armed Nato component at its core.
Otherwise Nato would be unable to guarantee the safe return of the refugees, he said.
Earlier, Mr Robertson told the BBC the fact that President Milosevic faced a huge economic crisis had led to him to consider backing down.
"If he is now accepting there should an international force inside Kosovo then that is indeed progress, but it's not really Nato that has to be satisfied here.
Nato could accept working in partnership with countries such as Russia in policing a peace in Kosovo, but the force would have to retain allied command structures, the defence secretary stressed.
Challenged on the continuing civilian victims of the Nato bombing, Mr Robertson said some errors could not be avoided in war, but relatively few mistakes had occurred.
The day after it hit a sanatorium, killing 17 people, at least another 10 died in a missile attack on an apartment block in Novi Pazar, in the south west of Serbia.
"We regret any civilian casualties," Mr Robertson said. "We don't target civilians, unlike the Serb forces."
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