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Rebels agree to give up big guns

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- Towing broken-down military vehicles behind them, the last of 40,000 Yugoslav troops rolled out of Kosovo on Sunday, prompting NATO to declare a formal end to its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Negotiators from the NATO-led peacekeeping force also reached agreement with the Kosovo Liberation Army that called on the rebels to turn over their heavy weapons, U.S. national security adviser Sandy Berger said at the summit of the world's seven leading industrial powers and Russia in Cologne, Germany.A NATO official said on condition of anonymity that a draft agreement was being examined by alliance officials in Brussels.

The G-8 summit in Germany ended Sunday with a final communique that did not specifically ban reconstruction aid to Yugoslavia while President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power.

However, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and several of the other leaders remained adamant that while the province of Kosovo will be rebuilt, the rest of Yugoslavia will receive only humanitarian assistance as long as Milosevic is in charge.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announced that at President Clinton's recommendation, the G-8 leaders will meet soon in one of the Balkan nations to review their progress in getting more than 1 million ethnic Albanians to return to their homes and in rebuilding war damage in Kosovo.

Lt. Gen Mike Jackson, commander of the peacekeeping forces, received written confirmation from the Yugoslav military Sunday that all troops had withdrawn to beyond the 3-mile

"ground safety zone" along the Kosovo border, said peacekeepers spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Louis Garneau of Canada.

Under the Kosovo peace plan, all troops had to be out by midnight.

On Sunday afternoon, after the departure of the main Serb convoy, a line of Serb transport trucks returned to haul off broken-down tanks and armored vehicles.

In the hamlet of Livadica on Kosovo's northern border, Avdyl Avdullahu sat on his wooden horse cart and watched the Serb soldiers trundle northward.

"In my 70 years, never have I had a happier day," the ethnic Albanian said.

With the troops gone, NATO officially ended the airstrikes against Yugoslavia. Secretary-General Javier Solana said in Brussels, Belgium that he had "decided to terminate with immediate effect the air campaign which I suspended on June 10," after the Kosovo peace deal was signed.

Under the demilitarization agreement reached Sunday, the KLA agreed to stop carrying weapons in many parts of Kosovo and to place anything bigger than a sidearm or hunting rifle in storage within 30 days, Berger said.

The agreement also calls for the rebels to maintain a cease-fire, expel all foreign members and respect the peacekeepers' authority on security matters, he said.

KLA fighters in the western city of Pec stopped carrying the rifles and assault weapons that earlier had seemed almost part of their uniforms. At one checkpoint, peacekeepers confiscated grenades from rebel fighters.

Tens of thousands of Kosovo Serbs, fearful the departure of the Serbian troops would leave them vulnerable to rebel attacks, have been fleeing from Kosovo in an exodus that mirrored the flight of ethnic Albanians under a Serb crackdown two months earlier.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has tried to conceal the Serb exodus, which he reportedly sees as a sign of defeat his enemies could use to unseat him.

The government has prevented the refugees from getting near Belgrade, blocked their attempts to set up tent cities and urged them to go home to the province many Serbs consider the cradle of their culture.

Yugoslav ministers accompanied convoys of refugees back into Kosovo on Sunday. The state-run Tanjug news agency said more than 1,000 people left for Kosovo from the city of Nis, 140 from Krusevac and 40 from Kragujevac.

But even as some Serbs returned to Kosovo, others reportedly were leaving. A group of about 200 made it to Belgrade and staged a brief demonstration Sunday, jeered at by onlookers.

"Why did you have to flee? Slobo said you can stay," an elderly woman shouted, using Milosevic's nickname.

"We didn't come here because we wanted to," said demonstrator Slobodan Filic. "Suffering made us come. Suffering made us flee."

In an indication that the crisis could fuel Milosevic's opponents, the board of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement called Sunday for urgent reforms. Party leader Vuk Draskovic said party members should be "ready to do what we have to do if the regime doesn't come to its senses."

Another opposition party, the Democrats, called for reforms to qualify Serbia for international aid.

The future of Kosovo could depend on what role the KLA assumes. Since the peace deal, the rebels have been asserting themselves across the province, even appointing a city administration and police force in the city of Prizren.

A top KLA official, Mehmet Hajrizi, said the group intends to "transform itself into a security force for Kosovo." But NATO, which sees itself as the only security force for the time being, was taking weapons away from rebels at checkpoints around the province even before the demilitarization agreement was reached.

Even so, the climate of violence persisted in some areas. The independent Beta news agency reported that a group of ethnic Albanians looted and set fire to 20 Serb houses Sunday in the village of Grace, near Kosovo's capital, Pristina.

On Sunday afternoon, a loud explosion rocked the capital. British troops said the blast in a courtyard of Pristina University came from an explosive device attached to a timer.

In the northern city of Mitrovica, French paratroopers held back an angry crowd of ethnic Albanians, preventing them from entering an apartment complex where about a dozen Serb families still live.

"They burned our houses. They broke my ribs!" shouted Fehmi Sahiti, 37. "Why should they live here in comfort?"

As NATO continued its northern advance, frightened ethnic Albanians filtered back into towns where Serb forces had rampaged just days ago. In the northern town of Podujevo, 25-year-old Arben Maloku returned to his home after two months hiding in the mountains.

In a back garden was a rusty ax with what appeared to be bloodstains, along with some scattered bones that neighbors believed were human remains. Broken beer bottles and torn clothing littered the site.

"I think terrible things happened here," he said.

The first investigators for the international war crimes tribunal began inspecting such sites, spokesman Paul Risley said. He said they will conduct more extensive examinations into alleged atrocities early in the week.

British government officials have estimated that at least 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed in Serb massacres. Some 90 mass grave sites have been reported.

The agreement came on the heels of NATO's declaration that it had formally ended its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Towing broken-down military vehicles behind them, the last of 40,000 Yugoslav troops rolled out of Kosovo on Sunday, which prompted NATO's declaration.

Jackson received written confirmation from the Yugoslav military Sunday that all troops had withdrawn to beyond the 3-mile "ground safety zone" along the Kosovo border, said peacekeepers spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Louis Garneau of Canada.

The G-8 summit in Cologne, Germany ended Sunday with a final communique that did not specifically ban reconstruction aid to Yugoslavia while President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power.

However, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and several of the other leaders remained adamant that while the province of Kosovo will be rebuilt, the rest of Yugoslavia will receive only humanitarian assistance as long as Milosevic is in charge.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announced that at President Clinton's recommendation, the G-8 leaders will meet soon in one of the Balkan nations to review their progress in getting more than 1 million ethnic Albanians to return to their homes and in rebuilding war damage in Kosovo.