Holbrooke Has Little to Offer Kosovo Guerrillas

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They may be a ragtag army with no centralized command or recognizable military strategy, but the Kosovo Liberation Army has arrived. That much was clear yesterday when, in a break with the West's policy of dealing only with moderate leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke held talks with local KLA leaders. And the guerrillas were anything but awed by the experience: "We didn't like what Holbrooke said about trying to bring peace to Kosovo," Lum Haxhiu told the New York Times after meeting with the U.S. envoy. "We need freedom, not just peace. It is freedom that we are fighting for."

While NATO has threatened to bomb the Yugoslav army to force them to withdraw from the region, it has begun to recognize that this is unlikely to occur while the KLA's armed campaign for independence continues. But the West refuses to back the demand for an independent Kosovo, which may leave Holbrooke with too little to offer the insurgents. The U.S. envoy meets President Milosevic in Belgrade today for the second time in three days, after which he'll return to Kosovo for more talks with its leaders. But despite his frenzied shuttling, Holbrooke has not yet given the slightest hint of optimism.