Russia Today - Russia defence minister meets Kosovo Nato's chiefs

PRISTINA, Serbia, Dec 25, 1999 -- (Reuters) Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev held talks with western military officials in Kosovo on Friday a day after angrily criticizing the NATO-led mission in the province.

The plane which carried Sergeyev and his party from Belgrade made a difficult landing at Pristina's airport after apparently suffering an engine failure, officials in the NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers said.

The incident did not affect Sergeyev's schedule and he went straight into talks with the commander of the peacekeeping force, German Klaus Reinhardt, and visiting German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping.

On Thursday, a statement following Sergeyev's meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic said: "Yugoslavia and Russia regard this state of affairs (in Kosovo) as untenable."

"The U.N. Security Council has an obligation to immediately take steps against those responsible for failure to implement its mandate, and to secure the strict respecting of its 1244 resolution and the military-technical agreement," the statement said.

On Friday, Reinhardt congratulated the Russians on the role played by Russian troops in Kosovo before they begun a close briefing.

Moscow, keeping up with the traditional ties to its fellow Slavs in Serbia, bitterly opposed NATO's bombing campaign earlier this year.

However, it played a key role in brokering a Serbian withdrawal from Kosovo and has contributed to the U.N.-backed Kosovo peacekeeping operation while remaining at odds with NATO.

But on Wednesday Russia suggested Moscow could review its involvement in KFOR if NATO continued in what Russia called a failure to fulfil the 1244 resolution, which guarantees the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia.

On Friday, arriving at the same KFOR base soon after Sergeyev was NATO chief Wesley Clark. But NATO officials denied the two men would meet.

Tension between NATO and Moscow is running high over Western criticism of the Russian military campaign in Chechnya, with Seregeyev saying on Thursday the relations with NATO had apparently entered a new chilly phase.

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