Canada

NDP breaks ranks on Kosovo bombing

A crack has developed in the common front Prime Minister Jean Chretien had in Parliament for the war in Kosovo with the NDP decision to stop supporting the NATO campaign.

NDP leader Alexa McDonough said the decision was made based on "interesting developments" -- including the freeing of U.S. prisoners -- that she believes could lead to a diplomatic solution.

McDonough says the Chretien government should be trying for a peaceful solution, not continuing its support for the bombing.

Chretien, however, says now is not the time to let up because Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosovic has not stopped the ethnic cleansing in the province of Kosovo nor withdrawn his troops.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy says Kosovo could be the test site for a United Nations, rapid response team to help clear mines from countries recovering from wars.

Axworthy made the suggestion Monday while in Mozambique, speaking at an international conference on landmines.

Aid workers warn landmines will be a major problem if ethnic Albanian refugees are allowed to return to their homes in Kosovo.

NATO launched airstrikes against Yugoslavia on March 24 after Milosevic rejected a Western peace plan to end the fighting in Kosovo, a province in the Serb-dominated Yugoslav republic.

More than 660,000 people, primarily ethnic Albanians, have poured out of Kosovo since NATO began its air assault, many pushed out by roving bands of Serb forces.