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Accord reached on peacekeeping
U.N. security panel OKs force for Kosovo with NATO at the core

COLOGNE, Germany -- Eight nations agreed Tuesday on a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a peacekeeping force for Kosovo with NATO at the core of the operation, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said.

The action, at a foreign ministers meeting, followed instructions to the hesitant Russian delegation, which had resisted the role for NATO as part of the settlement of the 10-week conflict in the province."We will have a resolution today that meets all of our objectives and that will provide all the necessary decisions to allow for the peacekeeping force in Kosovo with NATO at the core of the operation," Rubin said in a statement amid the deliberations here.

Earlier, he said Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was cooperating with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, who have been wrestling with a proposed resolution to endorse the settlement terms accepted Thursday by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The agreement "has taken away from Milosevic the game he has been trying to play over the past few days hoping he could renegotiate in the Security Council the terms he agreed to last week," British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview.

Some 50,000 troops are expected to make up the peacekeeping force, which would oversee the return of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees uprooted in the conflict. About 7,000 U.S. troops are expected to participate in the operation, which Defense Secretary William Cohen has said will be an open-ended mission.

Albright called President Clinton and "told him we have been able to achieve all of our objectives that assure that NATO will run the operation and that all Serb forces will leave Kosovo," Rubin said.

The spokesman said the resolution will call for cooperation with the war-crimes tribunal that has indicted Milosevic.

"We are hoping it will give a jump start to get the Serbs to do what they said they were going to do," said a senior diplomat, insisting on anonymity.

NATO struck targets near the Yugoslav cap- ital for the first time in days Tuesday, keeping its pledge to intensify attacks until Milosevic orders his troops out.

Fire and dense smoke could be seen rising above Pancevo, 12 miles northeast of Belgrade, and explosions could be heard from the direction of nearby Batajnica military airfield.

In addition, one person was killed and five were wounded in NATO attacks on Novi Sad, Yugoslavia's second-largest city, Serb media reported.

In Brussels, Belgium, a NATO statement Tuesday said allied jets conducted 658 sorties over the past 24 hours -- equal to the levels before the alliance scaled back attacks after Milosevic and the Serb parliament said it accepted a peace plan Thursday.

President Boris Yeltsin condemned the stepped-up bombing, saying Tuesday NATO was trying to establish a "dictatorship of force" and had "trampled upon the foundations of international law and the United Nations charter."

China also insisted that NATO immediately stop bombing Yugoslavia.

After meeting in Beijing with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, President Jiang Zemin told Yeltsin by telephone that NATO must halt its airstrikes.

"Our position is correct. We will uphold it until the end," China Central Television quoted Jiang as telling Yeltsin.

At the White House, President Clinton said the bombing will continue until Belgrade begins to pull Serb troops from Kosovo.

"The key now, as it has been from the beginning of this process, is implementation. A verifiable withdrawal of Serb forces will allow us to suspend the bombing and go forward with the (peace) plan," he said.

For the second straight day, Clinton telephoned Yeltsin to try to push the peace plan forward.

Before receiving word that Moscow would go along with the agreement, Albright met with three ethnic Albanian leaders on the prospect for self-rule in Kosovo. One of the three, Hashim Thaci, said the Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic Albanian group that has fought a guerrilla war against Yugoslav rule, is ready to issue a public pledge it will not attack Serb troops as they depart the troubled province.

Albright met with Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova and Rexhep Qosja.

The KLA fought for independence, a sentiment shared with other ethnic Albanians who make up an overwhelming majority of the population of Kosovo, but Albright said the settlement provides for "a high degree of self-government, not independence."

Albright plans to fly to Brussels Tuesday night to meet with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on arrangements for a peacekeeping force for Kosovo. Afterward, she intends to return to Germany.

"Our goal is not only to halt the crisis," Albright said of the strenuous diplomatic efforts made by several nations, backed by a relentless NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia. "The leaders I have met with intend to go forward with vision and courage."