Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin was to leave Friday for talks in Belgrade with Slobodan Milosevic, though the search for a political solution was complicated by a UN war crimes tribunal's indictment of the Yugoslav leader and by NATO's intensified airstrikes.
Despite Chernomyrdin's warning in a piece published Thursday in The Washington Post that Russia may pull out of the negotiating process if the NATO bombings did not stop soon, he appeared to be determined to push ahead.
Chernomyrdin's trip to Belgrade, initially scheduled for Thursday, was delayed twice when his talks in Moscow with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott continued most of the day Thursday after a marathon session Wednesday.
No statement was issued when the talks broke up. Chernomyrdin's spokesman, Valentin Sergeyev, told reporters that the talks were to resume at a still undetermined date and place.
"Perhaps the only thing on which the parties to the trilateral negotiations showed full unanimity was their desire to minimize information for the press," Sergeyev said.
It was unclear whether Chernomyrdin would carry any new proposals to Belgrade.
Ahtisaari, the European Union's point man, and Talbott left Thursday evening for Bonn to meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schrзder. Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.
In a joint news conference with Ahtisaari, Schrзder said diplomacy was making progress and he was "more hopeful than I have ever been'' that an agreement could be reached, The Associated Press reported.
The UN war crimes tribunal confirmed Thursday that it has indicted Milosevic and four other top officials on charges of crimes against humanity in the brutal expulsion of 750,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.
Many have expressed concern that the indictment would make it more difficult for Western officials to hold talks with Milosevic. But Schrзder signaled that talks could continue with the Yugoslav governmen ... Read more