NATO air attacks could cease by the weekend, if Serb troop withdrawals are verified
| G-8 PLAN:|
Key points of the G-8 peace plan include:
An end to fighting in Kosovo.
A withdrawal of all Yugoslav troops and Serb special
The safe return of all refugees.
The installation of a NATO-led peacekeeping force to protect
The creation of an interim administration for the province.
The eventual autonomy of Kosovo within Yugoslavia.
A formula for the economic redevelopment and stabilization
of the province.
June 4, 1999
Web posted at: 9:06 p.m. EDT (0106 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Marines could enter Kosovo within a few days if NATO observation planes can verify enough Serbian troops withdrawing over the weekend, Pentagon officials said.
President Clinton voiced cautious optimism Friday that a weekend meeting between NATO and Yugoslav army officers would lead to a full-scale Serbian withdrawal from the embattled province.
"Our experience in the Balkans teaches us that true peace can only come when progress in discussions is followed by progress on the ground," said Clinton during a White House ceremony.
The Pentagon said three main roads in southern Kosovo leading to the provincial capital of Pristina have been largely spared NATO bombing because they were major refugee routes.
Serbian forces will have seven days to use those same roads to leave the province and stay beyond a 25 kilometer (16 mile) "buffer zone" around Kosovo's border with Serbia.
Pentagon sources said 2,200 Marines in a three-ship task force are heading for Greece, to be in position to enter Kosovo within days of a verified withdrawal of Serb forces.
The Marines, from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are one option for the U.S. contribution to the "enabling force" that would precede the full 50,000-member peacekeeping mission into Kosovo.
"We could have part of an enabling force on the ground in Kosovo within several days of a decision to do so," Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said Thursday.
If the Marines are used, which Pentagon sources indicate is likely, they would go ashore at the Greek port of Thessaloniki, travel overland to a staging base in Macedonia, and then on to Kosovo, where they would join other NATO troops.
The ships in the task force are the amphibious assault ships USS Kearsarge, USS Ponce, and USS Gunston Hall.
Should more than 2,200 Marines be required for the enabling force, Marine Corps sources told CNN that additional troops would also come from Camp Lejeune and join up with extra equipment pre-positioned aboard the ships in the area.
Other options under consideration include the use of some of the 5,000 U.S. Army troops now in Albania with a task force of Apache helicopters, or U.S. troops based in Italy that form the Southern European Task Force.
Eventually, the Marines and other troops would be replaced by 7,000 soldiers from the U.S. Army's First Infantry Division out of Germany.
NATO sources said that, under plans drawn up earlier this year, the American troops will be assigned to patrol the eastern corner of Kosovo.
Britain will take the central sector, including Pristina, with France controlling the west, Italy the north, and Germany the south.
The rules of engagement still have to be determined but Pentagon officials said they will likely be worked out in a military annex, similar to the rules for Bosnia, in which commanders will have full authority to take any action necessary to protect their troops.
Correspondents Jamie McIntyre and Patricia Kelly and Reuters contributed to this report.
Hopes for Yugoslav peace tempered by new raids
June 4, 1999
Peace talks with Milosevic to resume Thursday
June 2, 1999
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
Kesovo and Metohija facts
Serbia Ministry of Information
Serbia Now! News
Kosova Crisis Center
Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
Kosovo - from Albanian.com
NATO official site
BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis
Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
Church World Service
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Iowa Department of Human Services
International Rescue Committee
Immigration and Refugee Services of America
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
United States Catholic Conference
Doctors without borders
U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
Doctors of the World
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Committee of the Red Cross
Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
Catholic Relief Services
ReliefWeb: Home page
The Jewish Agency for Israel
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis
Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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