President Slobodan Milosevic over the weekend reiterated his acceptance of the Bonn Accord signed by Russia and the leading NATO countries, but that agreement is open to such diverse interpretation that it will require some nimble diplomatic choreography to turn it into a workable peace plan. At issue: When NATO stops its bombing; the nature of NATO involvement in the U.N.-authorized peacekeeping force for Kosovo; and the size of the Yugoslavian military presence allowed to remain in the province. One indicator of the progress of peace talks is Ahtisaari's schedule. He's indicated that he'll accompany Chernomyrdin to Belgrade Wednesday if there's sufficient agreement Tuesday to make "to make a joint trip to Belgrade a sensible prospect." The answer to that question may now be determined as much by pollsters as by diplomats.
Day 70 of the Kosovo air campaign, and the end to the conflict seems now to depend mostly on the domestic political concerns of the key players. "Both sides are really eager to stop this now, which gives peace talks their momentum," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "Now it's a question of what both sides think they can get away with domestically -- of how much President Clinton will be able to compromise while still making the result appear to be a victory." The three key players in the diplomatic endgame -- Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, U.S. deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott and European Union mediator President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland -- met in Bonn Tuesday to consider new Russian peace proposals, after a night of heavy air raids in which Belgrade claims NATO bombs killed 26 civilians in two separate incidents.