Jackson Says U.S. Hostages Will Be Released

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Whether it was Jesse Jackson's smooth negotiation or calculation by Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic that his hostages had served their purpose, the three U.S. soldiers held captive for more than a month in Yugoslavia may be set free Sunday. According to Jackson, Milosevic has agreed to the unconditional release of Christopher Stone, Steven Gonzales and Andrew Ramirez, captured along Yugoslavia's Macedonian border last month. The White House, which has not been pleased by Jackson's cowboy diplomacy was, as they say, cautiously optimistic; Joe Lockhart said that it was too early tell if the soldiers would in fact be let go.

Elsewhere, negotiations to resolve the Kosovo conflict continued at a glacial pace. Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin swept straight into a meeting with Milosevic upon arriving in Belgrade Friday, pressing efforts to find a diplomatic solution. Russia's plan: NATO stops bombing, the Serb military withdraws from Kosovo and a United Nations peacekeeping force with a strong Russian contingent steps in to protect returning refugees. Right now, Belgrade still rejects an international military force in Kosovo, insisting that only unarmed monitors will be acceptable. NATO has no intention of stopping its bombing before the Serbs at least begin the process of pulling out. So while there's movement on the diplomatic front, at the moment it can still be measured in inches.

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