U.S. to push for Yugoslavia oil embargo
Albright says Milosevic's removal not goal of airstrikes
April 20, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As they made plans to tighten pressure on Yugoslavia with a NATO-approved oil embargo, U.S. officials reaffirmed Tuesday that President Slobodan Milosevic can only end airstrikes by withdrawing his forces from Kosovo and allowing refugees to return.
"We are not going to negotiate with him," said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as the war ended a fourth week.
NATO's goals for the air campaign do not include removing Milosevic from power, she told reporters at a White House briefing. But, Albright added, "we believe that the Serb people would be better served by having a democratically elected government that represents their values."
At a White House briefing where Albright was joined by Defense Secretary William Cohen and National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, they outlined the agenda for the upcoming NATO summit originally planned to celebrate the alliance's 50th anniversary, but now overshadowed by its war on Yugoslavia.
During the three-day summit, which begins on Friday in Washington, U.S. officials will push for allied agreement on new economic sanctions including an oil embargo to deny Yugoslavia the ability to wage war in Kosovo.
"Working with Serbia's neighbors, we will consider new economic measures designed to deny Belgrade the ability to wage war on its own people," Albright told reporters.
Specifically, she said the administration would like to see an oil embargo to prevent supplies from reaching Yugoslav ports. NATO says its airstrikes already have destroyed 100 percent of Yugoslavia's oil-refining capacity and have hit supplies as well.
Although NATO leaders haven't yet embraced the oil embargo proposal, Albright said she has talked to allied foreign ministers who are beginning to "see the problem."
Cohen said he believed an oil supply clampdown would occur. "We think it's important that all sources of resupply of fuel and energy be eliminated. How that is to be achieved is a matter of discussion," he said.
France and Greece have registered doubts about blocking oil shipments, preferring that the Clinton administration work through the United Nations. Washington says no further U.N. action is required because of existing sanctions against Yugoslavia.
Yugoslavia imports about two-thirds of its crude oil needs of 52,000 barrels per day, according to U.S. figures.
A U.S. official on Monday said that, before the Kosovo crisis, Serbia did not get much oil by sea but, with its main pipeline bombed, it may be drawn to use Montenegro's ports for its fuel needs.
Albright said the 19 NATO allies remain "rock solid" in their determination to continue airstrikes until the Serb military halts attacks on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, a Serbian province.
Berger said NATO summit leaders may discuss the matter of sending alliance troops to Yugoslavia, an idea that has been repeatedly rejected by the allies and the Clinton administration.
But for now, he said, NATO wants to keep up the air campaign and he doesn't expect that to change. "The consensus is to stay the course," he said.
Correspondent Wolf Blitzer contributed to this report.
Blair: 'No deal' for Milosevic
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