Capturing the three men on the Macedonia-Kosovo border was a propaganda coup for Belgrade, because it telegraphed the conflict's perils to an already skeptical America. But the Serbs gained little by holding them beyond the initial photo opportunities, whereas releasing them even at the height of NATO's bombing offensive offers further propaganda possibilities by appealing for peace directly to the American people over the heads of their leaders. Indications from Belgrade are that the captives will be home before all this is over. Perhaps even before Reverend Jesse Jackson -- who on Tuesday announced plans to fly to Belgrade and negotiate for their release -- can get a visa.
Now there's a Serb goodwill gesture that will touch Americans. His Easter cease-fire in Kosovo may have impressed no one, but President Slobodan Milosevic was reportedly considering the release of three captured American G.I.'s Wednesday. Acting speaker of the Cyprus parliament Spyros Kyprianou flew to Belgrade for talks Wednesday, after Milosevic had indicated his willingness to release Staff Sgt. Andrew A. Ramirez, Spc. Steven M. Gonzales and Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Stone into his care, to be returned to the U.S. Such a move would underscore Milosevic's peace efforts now that he has accomplished most of his "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo.