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Clinton Promises to Lift Economic Sanctions on Yugoslavia if Kostunica Comes to Power

Aired October 5, 2000 - 4:56 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. is very carefully monitoring the situation in Yugoslavia.

Our White House correspondent Major Garrett is standing by on the north lawn of the White House to tell us what the U.S. reaction is -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Wolf.

Well, the U.S. reaction from the president today -- a new reaction given just a few moment ago at a speech he delivered in Princeton, New Jersey. In that speech, President Clinton said that he hoped that the hours and days of the Milosevic regime would soon come to an end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday the Serbian police went into the coal mines and refused to fire on the coal miners. Today, in the parliament building, there are, as I said, thousands of young people like you and not-so-young people like me, standing up there, saying they want their country back. They want to be free. They voted and they want their vote respected.

The people of Serbia have spoken with their ballots, they have spoken on the streets. I hope the air -- the hour is near when their voices will be heard and we can welcome them to democracy, to Europe, to the world's community. And when they do, we will move as quickly as possible to lift the sanctions and build the kind of responsible partnership that the people there deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: The's president's reference to economic sanctions has been one of the carrots the Western world has held out to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, saying that if Mr. Vojislav Kostunica, the opposition leader, does become the duly elected president, that those economic sanctions will be lifted.

It's interesting to point out that the president did not go so far in that speech as his national security adviser Samuel Berger did. On our very air, Samuel Berger said that it is time for Mr. Milosevic to relinquish power and step down.

There's some interesting developments going on behind the scenes, Wolf. The administration is really trying to work this at two different levels. The president is very, very much aware that, particularly in Russia, his comments will be viewed with much sensitivity. He does not want to appear and does not want to give any indication to the Russians or to those in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that Mr. Kostunica is either the United States' man or their absolute chosen one.

He wants to try to leave this up to the people of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; encourage them to take to the streets, to do what they've done. Also encourage the police and the military who have, for so long, been aligned with the Milosevic regime to use restraint and let this, essentially, play out on its own.

Those are the things that are going on here at the administration. This is Major Garrett, reporting live from the White House.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Major; and our coverage of these dramatic developments in Yugoslavia will continue.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington, but for now "INSIDE POLITICS" with Judy Woodruff is next.

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