08/06/1998 17:18:44 Russia, Yugoslavia, call for peace in Kosovo
(Updates with report from the meeting)
BELGRADE, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Russia and Yugoslavia called on Thursday for a
peaceful settlement to the Kosovo crisis and said steps were needed to allow
refugees in the province to return home, the official Tanjug news agency
They called for an urgent start to new negotiations between ethnic Albanians
and Serbian officials.
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Nikolai Afanasyevsky for talks as the Russian launched another diplomatic effort
to end the separatist uprising in Serbia's Kosovo province.
The meeting -- in a Serbian hunting lodge that was the late Yugoslav
communist leader Josip Broz Tito's favourite holiday resort -- follows similar
talks on Wednesday between Milosevic and U.S. special Kosovo envoy Chris Hill.
Tanjug said the two men had agreed that a political solution to the crisis
They said Serbia should ease the return of the refugees in Kosovo and
provide material assistance, Tanjug said.
Russian officials were not immediately available for comment.
Both Moscow and Washington have been urging Milosevic to find a peaceful
solution in Kosovo, where ethnic Albanian separatists have been engaged in
fierce fighting with Serbian security forces.
But Russia, a longstanding ally of Belgrade, has ruled out military
invtervention while the United States has warned Belgrade that NATO might become
involved if the fighting goes on.
Richard Holbrooke, U.S. ambassador-designate to the United Nations, said on
Cable News Network (CNN) that Milosevic and Hill had met for six hours on
Wednesday. He gave no details of what was said.
Russian sources said Hill and Afanasyevsky may meet during his stay in
Yugoslavia. They said the Russian would stay in Yugoslavia for about a week and
would visit Pristina, Kosovo's provincial capital, on Friday.
"I would like to hope that eventually the escalation of the armed conflict
will be stopped and that negotiations will start," Afanasyevsky told Russian
reporters on his arrival in Belgrade on Wednesday.
He added he thought the situation in Kosovo was still very contradictory.