March 30, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- State Department Spokesman James Rubin said Tuesday that the Yugoslav proposals obtained by Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov fall "far short" of what must be done before NATO will halt its air campaign against Serbia.Earlier Tuesday, President Clinton blamed Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for "atrocities against innocent people" in Kosovo, and said Tuesday the United States and NATO allies are "determined to stay with our policy" of airstrikes against Yugoslavia.
"The NATO military operation is continuing today against an expanded range of targets, including Serbian forces on the ground in Kosovo," Clinton said at the State Department.
Clinton said NATO countries were outraged by the conflict in Kosovo, and he blamed Milosevic for inciting ethnic divisions "to pave (his) path to absolute power."
Speaking at the State Department, the president made no mention of a statement from Milosevic, who said Tuesday that NATO airstrikes must stop before peace talks over Kosovo can resume.
NATO, however, has said it won't stop the airstrikes unless Milosevic ends the attacks on ethnic Albanians and agrees to accept a peacekeeping force in Kosovo under NATO leadership.
Earlier, Clinton's spokesman said the president was "very disturbed" by reports of Serb atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and has "redoubled his resolve" to continue NATO's round-the-clock air campaign against Yugoslavia.
"We have heard reports of atrocities, and we have clear examples of ethnic cleansing," White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said. But he said the Clinton administration could not confirm that genocide was taking place in Kosovo, a Serbian province.
"We see potential evidence of genocide and that evidence will continue to be collected" for possible use in war crimes trials, Lockhart said.
Yugoslav officials say the thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees leaving Kosovo are fleeing not from atrocities, but from fighting between the Yugoslav army and "terrorists" of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army.
Lockhart repeated comments made earlier in the day by Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, who told CNN the United States was neither optimistic nor pessimistic about Primakov's talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
In a separate interview, Pickering rejected a suggestion that the bombing will not succeed and that NATO ground troops would be needed to force Milosevic to sign a peace agreement.
U.S., world mobilize to aid Kosovo refugees
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