Key NATO members united in rejecting Milosevic overture
Clinton, Blair: Attacks will continue
March 30, 1999
"I made clear I cannot accept the precondition that we must cease military activities first and then start negotiating. I am sure the NATO partners see it the same way," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said after being briefed by Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov about his meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
That sentiment was echoed in the United States, Italy and Britain, as those leaders prepared their countries for an ongoing air campaign.
"President Milosevic began this brutal campaign; it is his responsibility to bring it to an immediate end and embrace a just peace," U.S. President Bill Clinton said in a statement. "There is strong consensus in NATO that we must press forward with our military action."
In Rome, which has been seen as one of the more moderate NATO countries, Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema gave a 10- minute televised address to the nation in which he accused the Yugoslav forces of genocide and said Italy would continue to do its part to stop the "slaughter and violence" against Kosovo's civilian population.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "It's action, not words, that counts. (Milosevic) knows what he has to do."
NATO officials have said Milosevic must agree to three conditions to end the bombing campaign -- end military action in Kosovo, accept the "framework" of the Rambouillet peace agreement, and accept a NATO-led implementation force.
Primakov met with Milosevic for six hours Tuesday in Belgrade. He said the Yugoslav president was willing to participate in new Kosovo peace talks and would allow the return of "peaceful" refugees, but only on condition that NATO stop its airstrikes and the West stop supporting the Kosovo Liberation Army rebels.
"He thinks negotiations should be constructive, and he is ready to be constructive," Primakov said after the meeting.
A short while after Primakov's talks with Milosevic ended, a Serbian television newscast quoted Milosevic as saying that NATO and Albanian troops massed on the border with Yugoslavia would also have to be drawn down.
Zivadin Jovanovic, the Yugoslav foreign minister, elaborated in an appearance taped for CNN's Larry King Live.
"If aggression is stopped and if the NATO forces from borders of Yugoslavia, particularly in Macedonia, are withdrawn ... if the assistance, military training, financial ... to the terrorists is ceased, then it would be logical consequences that the forces of Yugoslavia which are there to struggle defending against aggression be diminished," said Jovanovic.
Jovanovic said it was NATO that should halt its military operations unconditionally.
"They (NATO) committed a crime -- crime against peace, crime against humanity," he said. "They are provoking our greatest humanitarian catastrophe in the region by bombing continuously civilians, cities, towns, villages, etc., and they certainly should stop it without any precondition."
At the United Nations, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed outrage over reports of a "vicious and systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing" by security forces in Kosovo and said a resolution to the conflict should provide for the return of the refugees now fleeing the province.
"Civilian populations must never come under indiscriminate and deliberate attack. Such actions are in flagrant violation of established humanitarian law," he said.
"Any solution to the conflict must allow these unfortunate people to return voluntarily to their homes in full security and dignity," Annan said.
Dampening any speculation that Annan might undertake a mission to the region, his spokesman said he "has no plans to travel to Belgrade."
Primakov: Milosevic ready in principle to talk peace
Extensive list of Kosovo related sites
Extensive list of Kosovo related sites
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