No Deal for G.I.'s Signals Long Haul in Balkans

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America will keep its yellow ribbons flying and its bombs falling. President Slobodan Milosevic Friday refused to hand over three captive G.I.'s to a Cypriot envoy, saying he wouldn't release them while NATO maintained its air attacks against Yugoslavia. But NATO had said that even the soldiers' release would not stop the bombing until Milosevic agrees to meet its basic demands -- a cease-fire and an end to "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo; the withdrawal of Serb military, police and paramilitaries; and the return of refugees under protection of an international military force.

"Although the bombing is hurting the Yugoslav army, there's no sign yet that it will force Milosevic to concede to NATO's demands," says TIME Central Europe bureau chief Massimo Calabresi. "It hasn't weakened him domestically, and air power alone is unlikely to force Milosevic's army out of Kosovo." Serb defiance and the no-ground-troops ceiling on NATO's involvement set the stage for a protracted conflict, and that may make some alliance members nervous. NATO foreign ministers are scheduled to meet Monday to review the campaign, and Italy and Greece have already signaled they want more emphasis on a political solution. Nonetheless, Milosevic shouldn't take too much heart. "NATO unity has proved far stronger than anyone gave it credit for," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "They're steadfast about pressing on -- although some could change their minds a week from now." And, of course, NATO had hoped to have ended hostilities before its fiftieth-birthday celebrations in Washington -- and those are only two weeks away.