March 25, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton warned Thursday that airstrikes will continue if Slobodan Milosevic does not "choose peace," and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the Yugoslav president "knows how to get in touch with us."
Albright said diplomatic channels "remain open" if Milosevic wants to end the attacks. But, she added, "There is no indication that there is any change at all in Milosevic's position."
"It is impossible for us to negotiate while he builds up his forces, attacks civilians and torches villages in Kosovo," Albright said at a news conference at the State Department.
White House National Security Adviser Samuel Berger said that as Serb forces continue their offensive, they have fired artillery shells in neighboring Albania. "It's obviously very disturbing to us," he told reporters at the White House.
Both Albright and Berger spoke after they and other senior Clinton administration international policy advisers briefed the president at the White House.
The airstrikes, involving bombs and air- and sea-launched cruise missiles, were authorized by NATO after Milosevic refused to call off attacks against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo or sign a U.S.-brokered peace deal.
NATO officials in Brussels said allied aircraft "destroyed" three Yugoslav jet fighters and hit 40 targets on the ground throughout Yugoslavia in Wednesday's first wave of bombings, missile firings and air combat.
"I'm very grateful that our crews returned safely after their work last night," Clinton said at the White House just before the briefing.
The president said he believed that NATO ground troops would not be needed to protect the Kosovar Albanians.
"We believe that airstrikes will be sufficient to meet the military objectives," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.
Clinton said the goal of the United States and its NATO allies "is to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe or a wider war."
"Our objective is to make it clear that Serbia must choose peace or we will limit its ability to make war."
Albright acknowledged that the United States and Russia are in sharp disagreement on the need for force. But, she said, the Clinton administration hopes to convince Moscow "that our differences over Kosovo need not disrupt progress on other fronts."
Clinton to get damage assessment briefing
TIME Daily: A Kosovo Primer
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