Clinton: 'Happy day' as Yugoslav pullout completed
June 20, 1999
COLOGNE, Germany (CNN) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton said Sunday that Yugoslav troops' withdrawal from Kosovo marked a good day, and that Russia's role in peacekeeping efforts there is acceptable to NATO.
"It's a very happy day," Clinton said, referring to the Yugoslav pullout. NATO formally ended its 11-week air war against Yugoslavia on Sunday.
In a wide-ranging interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday, Clinton discussed progress on the Kosovo peace plan, gun control and the 2000 presidential election.
"We have about 20,000 of our NATO peacekeepers in there. Sixty-two thousand of the Kosovars have already come home. So I feel very good about where we're going with this now, and I'm leaving here with real confidence that we are going to succeed in achieving all of our objectives," Clinton said.
After meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the last day of the G-8 summit, Clinton said he was satisfied with Russia's role at the airport in Kosovo's capital, Pristina.
Originally thought to be a staging ground for NATO peacekeepers, the airport was unexpectedly taken over by Russian troops last week.
"The division of labor they've worked out at the airport is quite acceptable to us and guarantees that the mission can go forward," Clinton said. He did not elaborate.
The U.S. president downplayed reports of Yeltsin's poor health.
"His behavior was neither erratic or shaky today. He was strong, clear, forceful and looking to the future," Clinton said.
Discussing the 2000 presidential election, Clinton praised Republican George W. Bush's campaign announcement last week. But he said the issues will decide how well Bush does against Vice President Al Gore on the Democratic side.
"We've got to see where he stands on the issues," Clinton said. "So far we know almost nothing of that except what we know from his record as governor."
"His announcement speech was very well-crafted. But on the specifics, I just don't know. I mean, for example, he said nothing about this gun battle going on in the House. He signed a concealed weapons bill in the Texas legislature. That's just one example."
Yugoslav military presence in Kosovo drawing to a close
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