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Russian premier cancels U.S. visit over Kosovo crisis

March 23, 1999
Web posted at: 2:49 p.m. EST (1949 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov called off a visit to the United States on Tuesday, his plane literally turning around over the Atlantic Ocean after he was briefed by Vice President Al Gore on unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to resolve the Kosovo crisis.

Russia has steadfastly opposed threatened NATO airstrikes against Serb targets in the province.

"After discussing the worsening situation in Kosovo, Prime Minister Primakov decided to return to Moscow," Gore said in a written statement.

During a refueling stop in Shannon, Ireland, before the trip was postponed, Primakov made clear his country's opposition to a NATO attack: "It is against good sense. We are firmly against this."

Gore and Primakov were planning to discuss increased economic and technical cooperation between the two nations. Primakov also was scheduled to meet with President Clinton.

An administration official said Gore had spoken twice with Primakov on Tuesday, and described the tone of the conversations as businesslike.

"The vice president was very firm," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The vice president could not assure Primakov that bombing would not take place while he was here."

In his statement, Gore said he told Primakov "that Milosevic had rejected our efforts to reach a peaceful outcome in Kosovo and that Milosevic was launching escalated offensive actions against the men, women and children of Kosovo."

"We agreed that we would postpone this week's meeting of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission," Gore said. "We will take up the important work of the commission at a time when both sides can better focus their attentions on the issues before us."

Correspondent Andrea Koppel contributed to this report.

Clinton: Serbs must be stopped now
March 23, 1999
Senators agree to send united message to Milosevic
March 23, 1999
Clinton seeks congressional consensus on Kosovo
March 23, 1999
Washington focuses on Kosovo
March 22, 1999
Monitors, diplomats leave Yugoslavia as NATO bombs loom
March 19, 1999
Kosovo Albanians sign accord; Serbs brace for NATO attack
March 18, 1999

Kosova Crisis Center
NATO Official Homepage
Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
The Pentagon
The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR)
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