ROME (AP) _ Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova and his family arrived today on a special flight to Rome as guests of the Italian government.

Western governments believe that Rugova, a negotiator for the ethnic Albanians during unsuccessful peace talks in France earlier this year, has been under virtual house arrest in Yugoslavia. The trip is his first abroad since the NATO airstrikes began March 24.

He was greeted by Italian Cabinet undersecretary Marco Minniti after arriving on a special flight, the premier's office said.

``The authorities in Belgrade agreed with his desire to come to Italy,'' the statement from the premier's office said.

The family are guests of the Italian government, the statement said, adding that Rome informed NATO, the U.S. government and European Union officials about the trip.