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NATO to Ensure Serbs Keep Agreement

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 1998 – NATO will deploy ground teams and reconnaissance aircraft in and over Kosovo to ensure Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic keeps promises he made Oct. 12 in negotiations with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Mike Doubleday said Milosevic agreed to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1199, which demands he implement a cease fire, withdraw the security forces he recently sent to Kosovo and garrison the rest. The resolution also called on Milosevic to allow refugees to return to their villages, to give humanitarian relief agencies immediate access to the area and to agree to a timetable for autonomy negotiations with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.

Doubleday said the ground element would come primarily from European NATO allies and be modeled after the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission already in the province. The agreement gives them the right to travel anywhere in the province. The observers will not wear military uniforms.

"There may be some U.S. involvement, but it is not planned that the U.S. military will have a significant part," Doubleday said. NATO will probably establish a rapid reaction force that will not be in the province.

The primary U.S. contribution to the NATO effort will come in the form of U-2, P-3 and other noncombat reconnaissance aircraft. He said recon aircraft are in theater and may not be limited to these assets.

Doubleday said the aircraft would monitor the movements of the Serb-controlled Yugoslav forces. They will also monitor the access ethnic Albanians and nongovernment aid organizations have to all parts of Kosovo, he said.

According to the agreement, the Serbs must dismantle and move all air defense sites from the province. The recon aircraft cannot be armed, but NATO has many combat aircraft on-call in the area if needed, Doubleday said.

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