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Yugoslavs React Quietly to Deal

June 3, 1999

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ There was neither dancing in the streets nor an outpouring of grief Thursday after Belgrade residents heard that Slobodan Milosevic had agreed to NATO demands and Serb troops would be leaving Kosovo, Serbia’s ancient heartland.

As the Yugoslav government strived to present its acceptance of Western peace terms as a wise and timely decision, some wondered whether more than 2 1/2 months of NATO bombings were really necessary.

``All I really wish is that this all ends as quickly as possible,″ said Draga Milosavljevic, a 56-year-old saleswoman in a Belgrade grocery store.

``But if what was accepted today is the same offer as two months ago, then it was criminal to let the country be crippled and devastated _ so many people got killed, for what?″ she said.

Judging from the gloom that prevailed among lawmakers in the Serb parliament as it endorsed a peace plan brought here by Russian and European Union peace envoys, the deputies knew it was a capitulation.

On the surface, Thursday was no different from any other day since NATO airstrikes began on March 24 _ sonic booms from allied jets rocked the capital, and air raid sirens sounded daytime alerts and all-clears.

Night after night of air raids and bombings have frayed the nerves of Milosavljevic and others. Milosavljevic admits all she wishes for now is calm sleep for her granddaughter, awakened every time NATO blasts shake the city.

Others said they had seen the capitulation coming.

``Whenever tragedy is inevitable, he gets the parliament to do the dirty job for him,″ said Dusan Gajic, 29, a college student. ``It’s common knowledge Milosevic always ruled without consulting even his closest associates _ he decided the destinies of millions for them.″

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