U.S. and Russia Posture at Talks, but No Deal

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Washington and Moscow may be discussing a Kosovo settlement, but they're still far away from agreeing on how to get there. United States envoy Strobe Talbott held talks in the Russian capital Tuesday with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and special envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, but each side had its own spin on the meetings. U.S. officials said Talbott's mission was to bring the Russians into line with NATO's own terms for peace and to urge Moscow not to defy an oil embargo against Yugoslavia. Ivanov warned, however, that a negotiated solution would be possible only if both sides were prepared to compromise, and that Russia had no intention of respecting the embargo.

Diplomatic efforts have assumed center stage because, with a ground war still a distant possibility, NATO is relying on diplomacy underscored by bombs to resolve the conflict. A possible compromise is beginning to take shape as Yugoslavia's Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic again urged his government to accept a Russian-brokered plan in which U.N. peacekeeping forces would be allowed into Kosovo to protect returning refugees. Foreign Minister Ivanov also indicated that President Milosevic was prepared to reduce Serb force levels in Kosovo to those he agreed to in talks with U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke last October, before his current offensive. Belgrade also allowed three captive American G.I.'s to be examined Tuesday by an international Red Cross doctor, who found them in good health. But until Milosevic is ready to accept an armed force with NATO participation in Kosovo, the bombs will keep falling.

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