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Leaders put pressure on Milosevic to withdraw

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World leaders and a wary NATO pressured Yugoslavia's president Thursday, warning that he must withdraw many more Serb forces from Kosovo before Saturday's deadline.

About halfway through the four-day grace period given President Slobodan Milosevic, NATO's chief said Milosevic was making progress toward ending his crackdown on separatists in the southern province but still had far to go. That came amid new accusations by refugees of Serb police intimidation.NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and two top commanders flew to Belgrade to sign an air surveillance deal for Kosovo and restate concerns that the Yugoslav president is not yet complying with an accord reached this week with U.S. envoy Richard Hol-brooke.

"I will send (Milosevic) a very clear message. And that is that the solution to the problem is not signing papers but to comply with agreements that have been achieved," Solana said before leaving Brussels, Belgium.

Just in case, NATO is continuing preparations for air raids against the Yugoslav Serbs. NATO warplanes are being moved to bases in Italy, just across the Adriatic Sea from Yugoslavia.

The White House said Thursday that Milosevic had to do more to comply with the new accord.

"I don't think there's anyone who believes that he has come into compliance," said Joe Lockhart, President Clinton's spokesman. "The message that will be delivered today is we need to see substantial progress by the deadline."

International officials huddled in Paris and Vienna Thursday as part of the assessment process to make sure Milosevic is keeping his word.

In Paris, the Balkans Contact Group of five leading Western nations and Russia fully endorsed the agreement on Kosovo but maintained its support for airstrikes if Milosevic fails to comply.

Hundreds of people have been killed and an estimated 300,000 forced from their homes by Milosevic's seven-month military operation in Kosovo, a province in Serbia, the main republic in Yugoslavia.

Many are crammed into houses with relatives and other refugees; tens of thousands of others are camped out in the open in the hills of Kosovo, too afraid to go back to their villages but suffering from the increasingly cold weather.