Pressure grows for end to the bombing

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The Independent Online
PRESSURE GREW around the world yesterday for a halt to Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia, as Germany's Green party demanded a pause in air strikes and Russia threatened to alter its stance on Kosovo entirely if air raids were not stopped.

At a tumultuous congress in Bielefeld, Green delegates averted a threat to bring down Germany's "Red-Green" coalition by backing their leader, Joschka Fischer, the Foreign Minister. But they also voted for a pause in air strikes. As the unwieldy German government - a key Nato ally and a participant in the bombing - felt the strain of growing anti-war sentiment, Russia sharply increased pressure on the alliance. In Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry told the visiting US deputy secretary of state, Strobe Talbott, the Kremlin would make "serious changes" to its position on Kosovo if the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia did not stop.

Nor have Nato's problems with China receded. Peking made clear that it remains furious about the bombing of its embassy in Belgrade last Friday. At an emotional ceremony to confer the titles of "revolutionary martyrs" on the three reporters killed in the strike, President Jiang Zemin accused the US of seeking global dominance and called on all nations to defy America and create a new international order.

The fallout from the embassy disaster has also brought about changes in the way Nato plans its attacks. Nato sources yesterday said several of the 19 Nato states have demanded that control over the selection of targets in the continuing air campaign be shifted from the military high command to the politicians.

Most of the disastrous attacks on civilian targets in Yugoslavia have happened since last month's Nato summit in Washington gave the alliance's supreme commander, Wesley Clark, greater control over air strikes. A senior Nato source insisted that the North Atlantic Council, comprising ambassadors from all the 19 nations, has no intention of "micro-managing" the air war, but said there has to be closer co-ordination between the political and military. Countries that have made representations to General Clark include Italy, Germany and France.

Capitalising on the mood of uncertainty, Serbia yesterday made a great fanfare of its "partial withdrawal" of forces from Kosovo, parading the departure of 100 soldiers on trucks.

Clearly determined to counter the mood of despondency in Nato's ranks about the chances of victory, US and British leaders said there was no slackening of resolve to bring to heel the Yugoslav leader, Slobodan Milosevic. "He was determined to wipe a people from the face of his country," Tony Blair said. "We are determined to stop him. And we will." President Clinton also insisted Serbia would have to allow Albanians to return to Kosovo.

Further reports, pages 4-6