NATO Tightens the Screws to Hasten Talks

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More war may mean more peace. NATO kept right on bombing Yugoslavia Monday night and shot down a MIG-29 fighter Tuesday, despite urgings to President Clinton from both the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin. But before departing for Europe for a meeting with NATO secretary general Javier Solana and German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Clinton did offer a significant concession to European fears that Washington may be being too intransigent: The President suggested NATO might call a temporary halt to its air campaign if that would aid the "larger purpose" of stopping Serb repression in Kosovo. In other words, Washington is ready to cut a deal if -- and that's a very big "if" -- Milosevic puts enough on the table.

The gulf between NATO's demands and Milosevic's initial offers right now remains too vast to begin negotiations. The alliance insists on an almost total Serb withdrawal from Kosovo and the return of refugees under the protection of a NATO-led force; Milosevic has offered only a partial withdrawal and a lightly armed international force excluding NATO member countries. The alliance will try to bridge that gulf by piling on the pressure. "NATO is escalating its air offensive because Belgrade had grown accustomed to the previous level of bombing," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "Escalation is designed to increase the level of discomfort in Yugoslavia." With the air campaign as the alliance's only leverage, the prelude to negotiations is likely to see NATO ratchet up rather than ease off on the bombing.

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