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Roadblock in Macedonia Peace Talks - 2001-08-07

Macedonia's peace talks hit a snag Monday when Macedonian politicians made demands for immediate disarmament of ethnic-Albania rebels.

Peace talks in Macedonia to end a five-month ethnic Albanian insurgency broke off unexpectedly Monday afternoon. Negotiations will resume Tuesday, but it was not immediately clear who will take part.

Macedonian leaders came to an impasse with international mediators over the timing of a NATO plan to disarm ethnic Albanian guerrillas. The issue is crucial to Macedonian approval of the plan, which involves deploying 3,500 Western troops to collect weapons from the rebels.

Some Macedonian leaders had previously raised objections to ratifying a peace agreement in parliament before ethnic Albanian guerrillas demobilized.

A NATO official in the Macedonian capital Skopje said the ethnic Albanian side was against linking a political deal in peace talks with a disarmament agreement.

Radmila Sekerinska of the Social Democratic Union said the Macedonians were not making new demands, but merely asking for a clarification on how a deal would be implemented.

However, one Albanian source said the Macedonians were reconsidering the entire negotiating process, after what they felt were losses at the bargaining table in recent days.

Macedonian and Albanian leaders had made significant progress the day before on the difficult issue of police reform and hopes had been running high for a quick conclusion of an overall deal.