Pressing Milosevic to put pen to paper would be easier, of course, if Holbrooke had the Kosovar Albanians' endorsement of the deal in his back pocket. That, once again, will have to wait. With the next round of peace talks scheduled to begin in France in less than a week, U.S. mediator Christopher Hill flew to Kosovo Tuesday for further consultations with leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA officially assured Hill on Monday that they accept the deal but -- as they did at the Rambouillet talks -- they asked for more time before signing.
Reviving the Kosovo peace process may be like reheating a soufflé -- getting it to rise a second time can take a miracle. The White House hopes that U.N. ambassador-designate Richard Holbrooke is the master chef who can pull it off. Now in Belgrade, on Wednesday Holbrooke will try to arm-twist President Slobodan Milosevic into signing the troubled peace deal. "Milosevic is hanging tough," says TIME Central Europe bureau chief Massimo Calabresi. "But the deal is ultimately in his interests, and that may lead him eventually to sign." That and Holbrooke's powers of persuasion: The U.S. envoy brandished the threat of air strikes to bully Milosevic into the Dayton Accords in 1995 and a Kosovo cease-fire late in 1998. "Even though there's considerably less unity than before among NATO allies about bombing him, Milosevic is more likely to concede to Holbrooke than to Albright," says Calabresi. "He likes dealing with Holbrooke for some reason, but doesn't like Albright."