NATO on Friday gave the Serbs and ethnic Albanian rebels a one-week deadline to begin negotiations in France. Even if the West's "credible threat of force" compels the Serbs and ethnic Albanians to compromise, European governments believe peace won't hold without NATO ground troops. But with 24 ethnic Albanian civilians killed in more fierce fighting Friday, peace may be the last thing on the minds of the region's combatants.
Will the U.S. send ground troops to Kosovo? With the troubled region set to become a long-term NATO peacekeeping operation, France and Britain have committed themselves to supplying troops for a peacekeeping force, and have made clear they want the U.S. to do the same. Madeleine Albright told the BBC that the administration would consult Congress on the matter. "A weakened president would have to sell Congress and the body politic on this and that won't be easy," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "The military is obviously reluctant, because they don't know how they'd get out once they went in." And the Kosovo situation is even more complex than that in Bosnia. "For peacekeeping to work, both sides have to decide that they want to stop fighting," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "Here we could find ourselves in conflict with both sides."