West orders Serbia to pull out Kosovo troops

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FIGHTING FLARED up again yesterday in Serbia's restive Kosovo province, with Albanian militants apparently trying to expand the territory under their control.

Albanian forces opened fire on a Serb village along Kosovo's main east- west road connecting the capital, Pristina, with the the western town of Pec, the home of the pro-Serbian Media Centre.

Meanwhile, an American diplomatic mission will tell Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic this week that he must meet all the demands of the Contact Group on Kosovo, the United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, said yesterday.

Ms Albright said the American ambassador to Macedonia, Christopher Hill, and the newly-nominated ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrook, would tell Mr Milosevic specifically that he must withdraw his forces from Kosovo, where Albanians opposed to Serbian rule form 90 per cent of the 2 million population.

"We will deliver a strong message that violence is not acceptable, that the package that the Contact Group put out is a package and not a menu. He [Milosevic] has to pull back his forces," she said in a television interview.

The Contact Group - Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States - earlier this month in London called for the Yugoslav President to withdraw "security units used for civilian repression" from Kosovo.

Ms Albright said all options remained open, including military action, but for the moment the emphasis was on diplomacy. "We want to solve this issue diplomatically ... The Nato planning is in support of a strong diplomatic approach ... the issue here is that we want a diplomatic solution and I don't want to threaten strikes when what I'm trying to do is get a diplomatic solution." she added.