Chinese demand U.N. meeting after Belgrade embassy attacked
Yugoslavs say 1 dead, 26 hurt in NATO attack
May 7, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- The Chinese embassy in Belgrade was damaged during a NATO airstrike late Friday, prompting the Chinese to demand an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to discuss what one Chinese official termed a "barbarian act."
The emergency session, at U.N. headquarters in New York, is set to begin at 11:30 p.m. EDT (0330 GMT).
Yugoslav officials said one person was killed and 26 others were injured by "two direct hits" on the embassy. The extent of the injuries was not immediately known.
China's official Xinhua news agency reported five injuries, one serious, and three missing people.
"We are greatly shocked," said China's U.N. ambassador, Qin Huasan, in a statement. "NATO's barbarian act is a gross violation of the U.N. charter and international law and laws governing international relations."
The statement said NATO should be held responsible for the consequences of the bombing.
"We call on NATO to stop immediately its military actions so as to avoid further humanitarian disaster," the statement added.
Serbian television showed people being evacuated via fire ladders from upper floors of the embassy, which is located in a section of the capital known as New Belgrade.
The strike on the embassy could add a new dimension to the Yugoslav crisis. China is a permanent member of the Security Council, which is expected to consider a new peace plan proposed by the Group of Eight nations. The Chinese have been strongly opposed to NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia.
Belgrade plunged into darkness
The embassy was damaged during the first air raid on the Yugoslav capital in three days, which began with a series of explosions late Friday night.
Government officials said the headquarters of both the Yugoslav military and the Serb police were also struck. Both of those buildings have been previously hit by NATO firepower.
Air raid sirens went off and the explosions began about 10 p.m. (2000 GMT), plunging the entire city into darkness. It was the second major power blackout in Belgrade since the war began.
Around the same time, the power went out in Podgorica, the capital of the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. The lights came back on about 45 minutes later.
Serbs report 10 dead in Nis attacks
Also on Friday, NATO officials conceded that "it is highly probable" that U.S. F-16 aircraft mistakenly dropped cluster bombs on civilian buildings in the Yugoslav city of Nis, although they were aiming for an airfield.
Yugoslav officials said that separate cluster bomb attacks on a hospital overnight Thursday and at a marketplace in Nis early Friday morning killed at least 10 people and injured 15 more.
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, responding to the Yugoslav claims, confirmed that NATO aircraft carried out an attack against an airfield in Nis.
"Unfortunately, it is highly probable that a weapon went astray and hit civilian buildings," Solana said in a written statement.
NATO sources told CNN that a hospital about two miles from the airport was hit by bombs dropped from a U.S. F-16.
"It appears we may have hit a hospital by mistake," a NATO official told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity.
International journalists, including CNN's Brent Sadler, were taken to view the bomb damage in Nis Friday. It appeared that a bomb had hit a residential area as well as the city center, pockmarking cars and blowing out their windows.
In another part of the city, a hospital was damaged, with several cars burning in the parking lot. In the central market of Nis, three bodies were seen lying in pools of blood amid scattered produce.
Annan: NATO should reassess Balkan role
In other developments in the Kosovo crisis Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on NATO to reassess the role it has played in the Balkans and let the United Nations lead peacemaking efforts.
Annan praised the decision of the Group of Eight countries to seek U.N. approval of a multinational security contingent as part of a negotiated settlement of NATO's air war against Yugoslavia. The United Nations, not NATO, should make decisions about using force, Annan said.
"The Security Council should have primary responsibility for peace and security, and when it comes to the use of force, the council must be involved," he said.
In a question-and-answer session with contributors at CNN's World Report Conference, Annan said NATO countries' attempt, without U.N. backing, to force Yugoslavia to sign a peace agreement is not likely to lead the alliance into a role as a world police force.
"My own sense, and I could be wrong here, is that after what NATO has gone through in the Balkans, it is going to reassess its own approach. And I think it should," he said.
Annan praises G-8 initiative
The G-8 countries -- which include the largest NATO powers and Russia -- agreed Thursday to seek the Security Council's blessing for an international contingent in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
The plan includes calls for:
Yugoslavia has said it would not accept an international military presence on its territory, just a lightly armed contingent. Annan said any force under the U.N. flag should be "so credible that no one would want to challenge it."
While the United Nations -- not NATO -- will give its name to that detachment, NATO leaders insisted that their troops must form its core and leadership.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov joined his G-8 counterparts Thursday in Germany to endorse the new plan, but he emphasized Friday that it was only a first step toward ending the Yugoslav conflict. He repeated calls for a bombing halt as well.
"For now, it's a step in the right direction, but it's only a step," Ivanov said.
Russia maintains that Yugoslavia must approve of an international force, and Belgrade floated a proposal Thursday calling for a mix of soldiers from NATO countries, Russia and other nations.
Milosevic meets with Greek delegation
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic met with a Greek delegation in Belgrade and was said to be pondering details of the G-8 formula, although he reportedly still objects to NATO being at the core of any Kosovo peacekeeping mission.
Vladislav Jovanovic, the Yugoslav representative to the United Nations, said the G-8 plan was a move in the right direction. But he was still critical of the document's call for a Yugoslav withdrawal from Kosovo.
"If we respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, no one could expect from us to evacuate entirely any part of our territory and to leave it in limbo to others to fill it," he said.
But Russia's support of the plan means Yugoslavia is increasingly isolated, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said Friday.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the "common ground" provided by the agreement is a plus for NATO.
"But it makes no difference to the fact that our bombing campaign goes on until our demands are met. The NATO demands are clear, and they must be met and met in full," Blair said.
Correspondents Brent Sadler, Alessio Vinci and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.
No lull in bombing; Yugoslavia ponders peace plan
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