March 22, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton on Monday called the mission of a U.S. envoy to Belgrade the last chance Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has to choose between a settlement in Kosovo and a NATO bombardment of Serb targets.
Describing special envoy Richard Holbrooke's meeting with Milosevic, Clinton sounded pessimistic about the chance the Yugoslav leader would reverse course and accept the plan that would give self-rule to ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province and enforce it with NATO peacekeeping troops.
"Serbia's mounting aggression must be stopped," Clinton said outside the White House. If not, he said, the United States and its NATO allies must be prepared to act.
"If President Milosevic continues to choose aggression over peace, NATO's military plans must continue to move forward," the president told reporters. "There is strong unity among NATO allies."
Clinton flew back to the White House from Camp David for a briefing by National Security Adviser Samuel Berger. Clinton spent only one day at the presidential retreat, spending most of his time calling other world leaders about Kosovo.
Earlier Monday, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright delivered an equally grim assessment of the Holbrooke mission.
"He is going to deliver the message that airstrikes are being prepared," Albright said, and that Milosevic faced the "stark choice" of accepting a six-nation plan for the Serbian province or "bear the consequences."
"We have made this last effort because we believe it is important, as we put Americans into a NATO force, that we have gone the last mile," Albright said, referring to the role Americans would take in a bombing operation.
"Time has run out, and that is why Mr. Holbrooke's mission is so important," Albright said at a brief news conference at the State Department.
GOP senators may try to stop funds for Yugoslav strikes
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