Kosovo talks team formed without rebel army

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) — The leading ethnic Albanian politician unveiled a new team Thursday to negotiate the future of Kosovo with the Serb-led government, but failed to win the backing of rebels fighting for independence for the province.
U.S. envoy Christopher Hill, who for weeks has been struggling to persuade ethnic Albanian rebels and politicians to stop squabbling and join forces, said the ongoing violence in Kosovo made it imperative to start talks immediately — with or without the rebels.
Representatives of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will meet Friday with the team to hammer out a negotiating platform for what Hill said he hopes are imminent talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
The five-member team is weighted with disciples of Ibrahim Rugova, a pacifist supported by one branch of the Kosovo Liberation Army and despised by others.
The KLA never responded to an invitation extended two weeks ago to join the team, Hill said, apparently because it did not want to work with Rugova.
Rugova, Hill and European diplomats hope the rebels will join the negotiations once they see progress is being made toward autonomy for Kosovo. One sign of progress, diplomats said, might be the formation of a multiethnic police force in the province.
The Serb-led government applauded Rugova’s decision, with Vice President Nikola Sainovic saying a Serb delegation has been ready for months to resume talks, which broke off in May.