Both NATO and Milosevic proclaim themselves ready for peace, but on substantially different terms. Still, the gaps appear to be narrowing. While NATO is unlikely to buckle on demands for an end to the Serb offensive, the withdrawal of most of Milosevic's units and the return of refugees protected by an "international force," there appears to be flexibility on some issues in the alliance's position. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Monday conceded that the Rambouillet peace deal would have to be reconsidered, while French defense minister Alain Richard said that an eventual peacekeeping force for Kosovo may not be under NATO's direct control, and would include Russian forces. Germany suggested that the force be constituted under the banner of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, although Britain insisted that NATO countries would have to play a leading role in such a force. The presence of a NATO force in Kosovo had been President Slobodan Milosevic's prime objection to the Rambouillet deal. Even as the alliance refines its negotiating stance, direct peace talks do not appear to be imminent. Until there's substantial movement from Milosevic's side, NATO is happy to let its bombs do the talking.
Even as the war continues, the peace is taking shape. The alliance's foreign ministers gathered in Brussels Monday and resolved to continue its 20-day-old bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, but again ruled out a ground invasion. More importantly, perhaps, the alliance began to shape its approach to the political settlement that is becoming inevitable after almost three weeks of bombing has failed to produce a decisive outcome.