U.S. bombers prepare for airstrikes amid marathon Kosovo talks

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) — U.S. bombers moved into position for possible NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia and a U.S. envoy accelerated talks with President Slobodan Milosevic on Sunday after reporting no change in the leader’s tough stand on Kosovo.
Richard Holbrooke and Milosevic held discussions late into the night Sunday, meeting for the sixth time in seven days in talks that signaled U.S. determination to search for a peaceful way out of the deadlock.
Holbrooke said early Sunday that he would “continue an intense effort to find a peaceful, acceptable, fully verifiable compliance system as an alternative to the other choice” — meaning the use of force.
But he also said NATO would meet today to authorize action if his mediation effort fails.
The major obstacle appears to be Holbrooke’s demand that Milosevic agree to an expanded international monitoring mission to verify compliance with demands of the U.N. Security Council.
Those demands include an immediate cease-fire, a withdrawal of special troops in the province, allowing refugees to return home and beginning talks with ethnic Albanians on Kosovo’s future.
The Pentagon is continuing military preparations if Holbrooke’s mission fails. Six U.S. B-52 bombers arrived in Britain on Sunday and a contingent of A-10 anti-tank planes flew from Germany to Italy.
The United Nations has condemned recent massacres of ethnic Albanians, but has not endorsed airstrikes. The Clinton administration, however, believes it does not need a new U.N. resolution for the attacks.
Russia, which fiercely opposes NATO airstrikes, called its NATO representative and ambassador to Belgium back to Moscow on Sunday for emergency consultations on the potential attacks.