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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S.: Embargo Will Halt Arms Sale to Belgrade

WASHINGTON -- The United States said any potential Russian arms sales to Belgrade would be stopped by an arms embargo on Yugoslavia, which Washington is confident will be approved at the United Nations by a March 31 target date.

U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said talks were now under way in New York on the embargo, agreed by Western powers and Russia on March 5, and added: "We have every reason to think that an arms embargo will be put in place in time."

He was commenting on media reports that Russia, which has often supported the Serbs in Balkan conflicts, had a deal to provide heavy weapons to Belgrade despite concern over the military repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other Western foreign ministers secured agreement from Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov to speed up the United Nations embargo process during a meeting of the Contact Group on Yugoslavia on Wednesday.

This was part of a compromise reached by the group -- made up of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States -- giving Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic four weeks to end the bloodshed in Kosovo or face more sanctions.

The potential influx of new heavy arms to Serbia has assumed greater importance with Belgrade's bloody crackdown on ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo and fears that violence there could spark a broader Balkan war.