Today's Story Line

Geopolitical ripples from the crisis in Kosovo are washing across borders along with waves of refugees (deportees, some say) from the Yugoslav province, where a unilateral cease-fire declaration April 6 by Yugoslavia was rejected by the US.

In Western Europe, public sympathy may have grown somewhat in recent days after initial grumbling about whether NATO ought to go in. But there are divisions in officialdom over whether airlifting Kosovar Albanians across great distances, a move meant to ease the region's strain, is a good idea. Quote of note: "Albania does not want to be part of the ethnic-cleansing mechanism." - an Albanian official.

In Central Europe, the focus remains on the NATO airstrikes themselves. Opposition is sweeping public opinion in former Warsaw Pact nations, once allied with Russia against NATO - ironically, a club to which three have just been admitted.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Yugoslavia, an apparent lapse in the accuracy of NATO missiles - with resulting civilian casualties - could play into any international doubts about the mission.

- Clayton Collins Deputy World editor


* INSIDE SERBIA: Belgrade-based writer Justin Brown was ready when the Yugoslav Army's press center had him awakened, along with four other reporters, for a ride out of Belgrade proper. Justin was the only American on a trip to Aleksinac, about 100 miles away and apparently the site of an inadvertent NATO attack. He was surprised at the lack of road damage on the way, and he says he saw fuel trucks but few other Army vehicles. He also found Serbs, even soldiers, willing to talk. Some were angry, but most were friendlier than people he'd encountered in Belgrade. In a shop, people asked him about casualties. Most said they knew of the ethnic Albanian exodus, but maintained that NATO strikes, not President Milosevic, have triggered the flight.


* WILL THEY SPELL IT 'JAIL' OR 'GAOL'? Libya has turned over two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people were killed. Now the wheels of justice start turning, with all the complexity of a truly international trial (Monitor story ran March 17). The Dutch legal system will handle initial extradition procedures before handing off to the Scots. The suspects will be transferred to a US air base near Utrecht - after part of the base is declared British soil for the trial's duration (as long as two years). If the suspects are found guilty, they'll serve their time in a Scottish jail. The US and Britain are negotiating who will pick up what portion of the estimated $200 million tab.

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