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Tuesday, March 30, 1999 Published at 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK

Milosevic's offer: Full text

President Milosevic's statement was released after talks with Russian Prime Minister

President Slobodan Milosevic said on Tuesday that he is ready to withdraw some of his troops from Kosovo if Nato halts air strikes against Yugoslavia. The following is the full text of his statement read by Serbian state television:
Kosovo: Special Report

The peoples of Yugoslavia resolutely oppose the criminal aggression by Nato forces. Our heroic people have demonstrated that we cannot be subdued by force of arms.

We are ready to defend our state and will succeed in defending it to the end.

This is not the first time that Yugoslavia has been forced to defend its freedom and right to its sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity.

We are convinced and resolved that even this time we will successfully pass the test.

'Commitment' to political solution

The problem in Kosovo-Metohija undoubtedly needs to be solved. However, it can only be solved by political means.

Clearly, its solution can only be political, rather than forced through thousands of tons of bombs.

We remain firmly committed to finding a political solution through negotiations, in which we hope that a constructive approach may prevail.

Nato 'aggression' must stop

At this moment, precisely in order to create room for a political solution, the aggression against Yugoslavia must be suspended immediately.

For its own part, the Yugoslav leadership, as confirmation of its sincere intentions to have the problems in Kosovo-Metohija solved in a peaceful way and through negotiations, will accept Russia's proposal to start reducing the presence of part of the forces deployed in Kosovo-Metohija for the purpose of defence against the aggression following the cessation of bombing and as a logical consequence of that fact.

'Support for separatists' must stop

It is understood that the security and success of political settlements in Kosovo-Metohija will depend on the complete cessation of Nato's support for Kosovar separatists, who have set out on a path of terror with the aim of restoring the situation on the ground which preceded the deployment of Nato's forces along Yugoslavia's borders.

The end of the aggression will create conditions for the immediate restoration of peace in Kosovo-Metohija, which is a vital interest of all peace-loving citizens, regardless of their national or religious affiliations.

All of them are citizens of our country, who are equally entitled to a life in peace and stability.

Return of refugees

Instead of sitting in shelters, or wandering around as refugees, or fleeing to other countries, they should be enabled to return freely to their homes.

The commitment to the peace process is aimed at guaranteeing equality and peaceful life within an integral Serbia and the independent and sovereign Yugoslavia to everybody without exception, to all national and religious communities in Kosovo-Metohija.

We send out this message to the outside world, in the belief that it will be understood correctly.

'Possible' escalation of crisis

To believe that this will be the case, we are inspired by the firm attitudes of Russia and China, India and a great number of other nations and states, which support Yugoslavia at this difficult moment.

The end of Nato's aggression and a peaceful settlement is of paramount importance for the future of the Balkans, which is facing the possibility of a new escalation.

The visit by the Russian delegation led by Prime Minister Primakov to the FRY at the moment when the aggression against our country is still going on is designed to reaffirm the effort to direct the future of the Balkans and Europe towards peace, rather than towards war.

Yugoslavia will never accept giving up its freedom. Its only choice is to defend itself and succeed in defending itself from any aggressor, in which, as was underlined, it will enjoy Russia's assistance and support.

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