Ground troops option to be reviewed by NATO leaders
Oil embargo explored
April 21, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With NATO's airstrikes against Yugoslavia moving toward a second month, top U.S. officials say the controversial issue of ground troops will be reviewed this weekend at NATO's 50th anniversary summit -- but they still insist air power alone will work.
"I am sure the full range of issues involving Kosovo will be discussed, but I believe that the consensus in NATO very clearly is to stay the course," National Security Adviser Samuel Berger said at a White House briefing with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Defense Secretary William Cohen.
"I am confident that NATO can, must and will achieve its objectives," Berger said. The three-day summit begins Friday.
Administration officials privately acknowledge last year's NATO ground troop assessment for the region is now out of date, given the dramatic events inside Kosovo over the last month.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 500,000 Kosovar Albanians have fled to neighboring nations since Operation Allied Force began.
"We've indicated before if the military leadership, political leadership believes it should be updated, it can be done so rather quickly," Cohen said, referring to the earlier ground troop assessment.
Oil embargo explored
But officials say there is no NATO consensus for sending in ground troops and, with the campaign focused on airstrikes, the strategy now is to explore the tightening of sanctions against Yugoslavia, especially ways to bar oil shipments from getting in the hands of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
"We will consider new economic measures designed to deny Belgrade the ability to wage war against its own people, such as an embargo on oil products," Albright said.
Administration officials say they will press NATO allies to agree to cut off Yugoslavia's access to the petroleum products required to power Milosevic's military machinery.
"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. ... We're looking for the most appropriate and expeditious way of doing it," Cohen said.
In Brussels, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea echoed those sentiments when asked about reports of oil still coming into Yugoslavia from other countries. Shea said NATO was still working on ways to cut that flow, but no decisions had been reached.
The embargo also would block materials needed to replace military equipment and rebuild the bridges, roads and refineries destroyed by Operation Allied Force.
In addition, President Clinton and his national security team will argue for a substantial expansion of the existing arms embargo against Yugoslavia when NATO allies gather in Washington this week for the military alliance's 50th anniversary.
Within NATO, concerns over sanctions
There are concerns within the alliance over the enforcement of tighter sanctions and how such sanctions might affect civilians both in and out of Yugoslavia.
"Blockades or other ideas need further consideration. They raise a number of difficult issues including legal issues which certainly should be studied very, very carefully," said Francois Bujon de l'Estang, the French ambassador to the United States.
When discussing the stepped up economic pressure at the NATO summit, officials say, the allies will make clear the goals of Operation Allied Force remain the same: Milosevic must pull his troops out of Kosovo, allow refugees to return, accept an international security force in Kosovo and accept the framework for autonomy in the province.
"The economic and political pressure will intensify until these goals are met," Berger said.
NATO's goals for the air campaign do not include removing Milosevic from Albright said. But she added, "We believe that the Serb people would be better served by having a democratically elected government that represents their values."
Missiles slam into central Belgrade
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
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