Possible new Kosovo peace plan for European summit
April 14, 1999
BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- Germany was reportedly preparing a new peace plan for Kosovo Wednesday as European leaders gathered in Brussels for a crisis summit on establishing an exit strategy for the conflict.
Belgrade has rejected earlier plans that called for NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo, but German media reported the latest proposal from Bonn would go to the U.N. Security Council for consideration.
NATO has stepped up its air campaign against Yugoslavia and has ordered more military aircraft into the Balkans theater to intensify attacks even further. But Belgrade showed no signs of backing down as the conflict entered its third week.
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic met with visiting Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. The meeting was an apparent step towards cementing Milosevic's wish to join an alliance with fellow Orthodox Slav nation Belarus and its much larger neighbor Russia.
In Brussels at NATO headquarters, CNN Correspondent Jim Clancy reported a new drive by alliance members to push for a diplomatic solution.
He said the proposed German plan reportedly incorporated the demands being made by NATO but involved a peacekeeping force that would be mounted under U.N. auspicice and include Russian troops.
Russia has strongly opposed the NATO attack on Yugoslavia and has repeatedly pledged its support for Milosevic.
The existing requirements of NATO have been that NATO provide and oversee any peacekeeping force.
Clancy also reported that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was due in Brussels Wednesday to participate in the meeting with European leaders.
A role for the United Nations could be seen as a compromise that could be implemented by both sides in the dispute. "They (NATO countries) feel that perhaps under the weight of continued airstrikes Belgrade may be more interested in diplomacy," Clancy reported.
Annan is expected to push for a quick resolution to the crisis.
From the Yugoslav capital Belgrade, CNN's Alessio Vinci reported that the visit by Lukashenko was expected to look at ways of finding a political solution to the crisis. The Belarus leader is also expected to announce a humanitarian assistance package for Yugoslavia.
NATO vows to intensify attacks
Meanwhile, NATO has pledged to press ahead with the most extensive bombing of the allied campaign against Yugoslavia as U.S. officials said they had photographic evidence of a suspected mass grave in Kosovo for some 100 massacre victims.
Pre-dawn air raids resumed Wednesday with Serbian TV reporting attacks on the Bistrica hydroelectric plant near the southern Serb town of Nova Varos, about 125 miles (200 km) south of Belgrade. A nearby bridge on a main railroad line that runs from Belgrade to the Montenegrin port of Bar was lightly damaged, the report said.
Serbian TV said the largest factory in the town of Valjevo, about 70 miles southwest of Belgrade, was hit and that at least two people were wounded. Four explosions also were reported in the central Serb town of Pozega.
On Tuesday, Albania reported Serb troops crossed its border and seized the town of Kamenica after firing at border guards and setting fire to homes. Other monitors said the troops withdrew to the Yugoslav side of the border after 40 minutes.
Yugoslav officials denied there was any incursion -- claiming its forces have been under attack in the area by Kosovo Liberation Army rebels. U.S. and NATO officials played down the significance of the incident, calling it just the latest in a series of skirmishes that predate the NATO offensive against Yugoslavia.
But sources said NATO was watching that border closely because it must protect its troops in Albania -- soon to number as many as 10,000 -- and it feels obligated to Albania for taking the risk of serving as a staging area.
In predawn raids Tuesday, NATO flew triple the usual number of planes in attacks that struck oil refineries, a fuel depot, bridges and a factory in five Yugoslav cities and an area near the Kosovo capital of Pristina.
Following a briefing of congressional leaders, President Clinton told reporters at the White House that NATO was taking its air campaign "to the next level" because "all of us would like the conflict to end, especially for the suffering people of Kosovo."
"Our campaign is diminishing and grinding down Mr. Milosevic's military capabilities," Clinton said.
"We have weakened Serbia's air defenses and command and control. We have reduced his ability to move, sustain and supply the war machine in Kosovo."
Mass killing allegations
In Brussels, NATO Supreme Military Commander Gen. Wesley Clark said the alliance has photographic proof of a "systematic" campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
And in Washington, sources said the Pentagon has aerial photographs of what appears to be a second mass grave in Kosovo, in the southwestern town of Velika Krusa, which may contain as many as 100 bodies.
U.S. officials say the evidence of a mass grave is consistent with accounts from Kosovar Albanian refugees. Sunday, NATO officials showed pictures of a possible mass burial ground in Pusto Selo southwest of the Kosovo capital of Pristina.
The before-and-after aerial photos seemed to show "freshly turned earth" similar to what was seen at massacre burial sites in Bosnia during that conflict.
In Brussels Tuesday, Clark showed aerial photos of troops going into the homes of ethnic Albanians, throwing grenades, turning on the gas and starting fires.
"It's a whole set of communities which have been devastated," Clark said. "And what you see when you look at this is a widespread systematic pattern of ethnic cleansing. It's a familiar pattern over the last 10 years."
Clark said NATO's air campaign would continue with the intent to "attack, disrupt, degrade" Milosevic's military.
He said he has asked for another 300 U.S. warplanes to participate in the campaign, along with additional planes from other NATO member nations, which would raise the overall aerial contingent to well over 1,000 planes.
More troops on the way
In London, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said NATO is stepping up the offensive "because we are determined to make an impact from our air campaigns and follow up on the good success that we've achieved."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced an additional 1,800 British troops will be sent to the Balkans, raising the number of British troops there to 6,300. Blair said the additional troops were being sent to assure refugees can return safely to Kosovo.
The question of whether ground troops should be an option was paramount in Clinton's briefing of congressional leaders, but administration and NATO officials have consistently ruled that out.
A critic of that posture, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), said in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies the administration should now begin to "mobilize infantry and armored divisions for a possible ground war in Kosovo."
"As almost anyone with war experience knows, you're never supposed to show the enemy what you won't do to win." said McCain, a likely candidate for president in the year 2000, was a Navy pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam.
In London Tuesday, Cook said, "We are all clear that we have no intention of sending an armed invasion. We have no plans of sending an armed invasion. There has been no change in our position.
Blair told members of the House of Commons he is concerned about the safety of those Kosovar Albanians who have been forced from their homes, but remain within the province.
"Milosevic is responsible for the welfare of those people," said Blair. "When we go into Kosovo finally, he will be held responsible for what we find."
Pentagon officials said there are anywhere from 250,000 to 700,000 displaced Kosovar Albanians, many hiding in the hills and many others faced with the prospect of hunger, still trapped in Kosovo.
NATO confirmed its missiles hit a train in a rural area about 200 miles southeast of Belgrade Monday in an attack that Serbian officials said killed at least 10 people, including a 10-year-old child, and injured 16 others.
The train was on a railroad bridge hit by America's newest and most accurate missiles -- the video-guided AGM-130, fired by a U.S. F-15E, Pentagon sources said.
Clark said the target was the bridge, which he described as "part of the integrated communications supply." He said the pilot "was not able to put his eyes on the bridge" as he fired the missiles.
"As the pilot stared at the aim point, and worked it and worked it and worked it, all of a sudden at the very last minute -- less than a second to go -- he caught a flash of movement that came into the screen and it was the train," Clark said.
"He couldn't dump the bomb at that point. It was locked. It was going to the target and it was an unfortunate incident we all regret. We certainly don't want to do collateral damage. The mission was to take out the bridge. He realized when it had happened that he had not hit the bridge, that what he had hit was the train."
Clark said the pilot then circled around and tried to hit the bridge from another vantage, but because of the cloud cover, he ended up causing additional damage to the train instead.
"It's one of those regrettable things that happen in a campaign like this one," he said.
"I do think that people should know, ground troops are not a shortcut. It would take two or three months to have in the theater, the kind of large-scale expeditionary force we need to fight our way in. We can't wait two or three months."
NATO said it had flown a total number of 1,687 strike sorties in the three-week campaign, even though there have been only seven days when the weather was favorable and 10 days when more than half of the strikes were canceled.
The Pentagon said the attacks have significantly impacted Yugoslavia's infrastructure and military supply network.
It showed pictures of NATO strikes it said have rendered two oil refineries inoperable, destroyed 11 fuel storage facilities, 11 bridges, four ammo storage depots, including one near Pristina, Army barracks at Novi Sad and Pristina and a radio relay station in Pristina.
Correspondents Brent Sadler and Carl Rochelle contributed to this report.
NATO: Strikes 'grinding down' Yugoslav military
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.