BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, May 1 -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he appealed to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to release three U.S. soldiers captured on the Macedonian border over a month ago as 'a bold diplomatic gesture' to stop the cycle of violence. But Jackson, who leads an unofficial humanitarian delegation to Belgrade, told CNN after a three-hour meeting with Milosevic today that the president's official position -- that NATO must stop bombing his country before the prisoners are released -- has not changed. 'We'll know later today what his final decision will be about the three soldiers,' Jackson said. Jackson said he thought it was unlikely that the three men would be put on trial in Yugoslavia. 'There seems to be no real movement to try them, to further humiliate them,' Jackson said. 'Right now, we're really looking at solutions how to disentangle the crisis, not how to expand it.' However, he expressed concern that the building where the men are being held is a military target. 'They could very well be bombed in this building,' Jackson said. 'Therefore, there's a kind of urgency to the diplomatic initiative on both sides to come to some agreement.' Jackson said the Yugoslav authorities will allow more clergymen from his 26-member delegation to visit the three soldiers. He also expects to meet with the Yugoslav foreign minister later today. Jackson and Rep. Rod Blagojevich, D-Ill., made the trip despite warnings by the Clinton administration that NATO airstrikes over Belgrade would not be halted during their visit.
On Friday, Jackson met with the three soldiers, delivered messages from their families and held a prayer session with them. Army Spec. Steven Gonzales, 22, of Huntsville, Texas; Staff Sgt. Andrew Ramirez, 24, of Los Angeles; and Staff Sgt. Christopher Stone, 25, of Smiths Creek, Mich., were captured March 31 while patrolling Serbia's border with Macedonia. ---
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