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TELL HER YOU WANT PEACE; NATO rejects Serb ceasefire as another con.

NATO leaders last night vowed that the war will go on after Serb president Slobodan Milosevic made a cynical bid to halt the bombing.

Facing humiliation and the destruction of his military might, he announced all Serbian troops in Kosovo would return to their barracks and refugees - now numbering more than one million - would be allowed home.

But the gesture was dismissed by No10 and the White House as a "diplomatic ploy". PM Tony Blair said the West would "not fall for it".

The Allies are challenging Milosevic to prove to refugees like the old woman, above, that he really means peace. Fifteen minutes after the unilateral ceasefire took effect, air raid sirens sounded in Belgrade, signalling the heaviest night of bombing yet.

Ex-PM John Major said NATO should be even tougher - and got an unlikely ally in former Labour leader Michael Foot. Left-winger Mr Foot said it was "defeatist" to say ground troops should never be sent into Serbia.

He said: "There must be readiness to have ground troops. That should have been accepted before."

Mr Foot said NATO ground forces could support Kosovar resistance.

He added: "If we had taken the advice of the people who were ready to resist three or four years ago, this tragedy would never have happened."

Mr Foot warned: "It's going to be the worst triumph of fascism we've seen in Europe since the holocaust."

Mr Major said Britain was wrong to rule out the use of ground troops and led criticism from leading politicians over NATO tactics.

He added: "It was probably unwise in retrospect to have said at the time we began bombing that there were no circumstances in which we would put in ground troops."

He said NATO should have at least massed troops on the Macedonian border with Serbia as a threat to Milosevic. But NATO's decision not to consider a ground war had painted the alliance into a corner, said Mr Major.

Mr Major also criticised the failure to foresee the refugee problem.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary George Robertson revealed HMS Splendid, the Royal Navy's cruise missile submarine, had been resupplied with the weapons and would be ready for further attacks within the next 24 hours.

He said of the Yugoslav offer: "It doesn't give an indication that the refugees will get back safely to their homes. It doesn't talk about all the killing troops being withdrawn from Kosovo."

He said the move was a "sign of weakness, and a sign that NATO is beginning to have an effect on the killing machine in Kosovo, and as such it is welcome".

A Downing Street spokesman said: "This statement falls far short of the conditions required of Milosevic. He's got to get all his troops out and agree to a peacekeeping force on the ground."

Rejecting the ceasefire, President Bill Clinton said at the White House: "The United States would never choose force as anything other than a last option."

The NATO war machine continued to step up a gear yesterday.

General Xavier Delcourt, France's deputy operations chief, said: "With the good weather we are having and the arrival of the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, these are going to be the biggest raids to date."

But NATO admitted they dropped a bomb on a block of flats in the Serb town of Aleksinac.

Yugoslav media said five civilians died.
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Author:Macaskill, Jamie
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 7, 1999
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