Milosevic defies U.S. warnings, deploys more forces in Kosovo Yugoslavian move follows allies' decision not to act

March 27, 1998|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- Ignoring U.S. warnings, the government of Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic has deployed several hundred additional police officers to the rebellious Kosovo province in what may signal the start of another offensive, Western officials said yesterday.

Reports of the buildup came a day after the six-nation contact group that monitors Balkan conflicts decided not to act on threats to punish the Milosevic regime for a fierce crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo earlier this month. More than 80 people died in that operation.

The United States and its European allies have demanded that Milosevic withdraw special police forces from the Albanian-majority province in southern Serbia. Instead of complying, Milosevic has dispatched additional police, and the special units are digging in, Western officials said.

American and British envoys on a mission to Yugoslavia warned the government yesterday against continued police incursion into Kosovo and urged Serbian and ethnic Albanian leaders to begin a "meaningful, unconditional dialogue" immediately to avoid a wider war.

Robert Gelbard, the U.S. special envoy for the Balkans, said paramilitary police were reinforcing permanent and semi-permanent positions in Kosovo. These include sandbagged roadside checkpoints and sniper nests.

"They are clearly in positions they were not before," Gelbard said at a news conference in Kosovo's regional capital, Pristina, after a day of meetings with Serbian and Albanian officials.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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