Letter: Talking to Milosevic

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Robert Fisk's article "Trojan Horse that `started' a 79-day war" (26 November) contains three serious errors in its first paragraph.

He is wrong to say that the Serbs were prepared to agree at the Rambouillet peace talks to a political resolution in Kosovo. At the second round of talks, as well as refusing to discuss implementation, the Serbs sought to reopen large parts of the political text to which they had previously indicated assent. All members of the Contact Group, including Russia, refused to accept this.

He is wrong to say that Nato sought the occupation of all of Yugoslavia (his own excerpt from the draft technical status of forces text shows this wasn't so). Nato wanted the right to transit the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in order to support what would have been the agreed peace implementation force in Kosovo. Milosevic had accepted that for a Nato- led force that went to Bosnia under the peace agreement in 1995.

Finally, Robert Fisk is wrong to say that Nato refused to contemplate any change in the military document. I co-chaired the Rambouillet talks. All the documents presented there were draft proposals for the parties to discuss. The reality was that Milosevic wasn't the slightest bit interested in negotiating, at Rambouillet or since. Had he done so, the Contact Group - which included Nato allies - was ready to respond. Only after all political avenues had been exhausted, and we were faced with a mounting humanitarian disaster, did Nato resort to military action.

ROBIN COOK

Foreign Secretary

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

London SW1

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