Serbs Under Pressure

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PARIS: The time for talking may soon be over. The Serb delegation arrived at the Kosovo peace talks Tuesday with a new set of amendments to the Western-authored peace plan, which were bluntly rejected by mediators. With the Kosovar Albanians now ready to sign, the focus is once again on forcing the hand of the Serbs. "The original premise of the talks was that the fundamentals of the agreement are nonnegotiable," says TIME Paris correspondent Bruce Crumley. "The Serbs won't be allowed to renegotiate it. And with NATO threatening to bomb him into compliance, the question may once again become how much punishment Milosevic is prepared to take."

Apparently unfazed by the looming standoff in Paris, Serb troops pursued their offensive in Kosovo Tuesday, torching three villages in their pursuit of Kosovo Liberation Army rebels. The renewed fighting may have helped persuade the Kosovars to play ball with NATO. "Although the deal falls short of the KLA's goal of independence, it weakens Milosevic's hold on Kosovo," says Crumley. "They also realized that their signature was a precondition to any NATO bombing of Milosevic's forces." For the heavily outgunned KLA, signing an imperfect deal is still a cost-effective way of calling in an air strike.