Yugoslav POW in U.S. custody; reserves to be called up
Missiles slam factory in Valjevo, Serb TV says
April 17, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- As the United States prepares to draw on military reserve forces, Washington has confirmed that a Yugoslav Army lieutenant was being held as a prisoner of war by U.S. military officials in Albania.
There was no immediate response from Belgrade.
The Pentagon said the lieutenant, whose name has not been released, was captured earlier this week by the Kosovo Liberation Army and was the commander of about 20 men from a larger force of some 300 Yugoslav army troops and 100 Serb police.
The Pentagon said the lieutenant had been examined by a doctor and "was found to be in good condition." He will "enjoy all the protections and rights accorded by the Geneva Conventions," the Pentagon said.
Pentagon and U.S. officials said they were making a point in the treatment of the POW, saying he was being given all the rights the United States expects Yugoslavia to extend to the three U.S. soldiers being held captive there.
A senior U.S. defense official added, "While a prisoner exchange could be possible, (Yugoslav President) Slobodan Milosevic has not afforded American POWs any of the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions."
In a separate development, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, General Wesley Clark, will be in Tirana Saturday for talks with Albanian leaders.
The Albanian Ministry of Information said Clark would arrive in Tirana around 8 a.m. EDT. Clark is scheduled to meet with Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and Albanian Defense Minister, Luan Hajdaraga, Saturday afternoon.
At the Pentagon, a request was being prepared for the call-up of as many as 33,000 reservists to support the NATO campaign. President Bill Clinton was likely to approve the request, military officials said.
They said the 60 percent to 70 percent of those called up would be from the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard and would be involved in refueling and transport flights and ground logistics. Army reservists who handle civil affairs duties, ranging from food handling to medical and mail support, would also get the call.
CNN has also learned the White House will ask Congress for nearly $500 million in new spending to help alleviate the Kosovo refugee crisis.
The new money would be in addition to the $150 million the U.S. government has already pitched in.
Strikes reported outside Belgrade
NATO's Operation Allied Force pressed on early Saturday, with four cruise missiles slamming into a factory in the town of Valjevo, about 55 miles southwest of Belgrade, Serbian television reported.
It was not immediately clear what the factory produced. The report said the attack caused at least one fire and damage to civilian areas.
On Friday, with the human column of fleeing Kosovo Albanians stretching for miles at border checkpoints, President Clinton said the vision of a "world drawing closer together culturally and economically" was being threatened in the Balkans by a policy of ethnic cleansing.
And although not a stated goal of NATO, Clinton reiterated comments made a day earlier -- that democracy is needed in the Balkans for true stability to be achieved.
Yugoslavia says 'no' to U.N. proposal
At the United Nations, Yugoslavia formally rejected a U.N. peace proposal for Kosovo that calls for the deployment of an international military force in the province.
Yugoslavia's most senior diplomat in the United States, Charge d'Affaires Vladislav Jovanovic, told reporters his country was willing to negotiate on an international civilian presence in Kosovo, but not a military one.
Along the border of Kosovo, refugees told of an intense Serb campaign to drive ethnic Albanians out of the region. They said up to 200,000 refugees were on the march, trying to make it to the borders with Albania and Macedonia.
U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said there was new evidence of mass killings by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo west of Pristina. He said information was still being developed but that a "significant" number of killings had been uncovered.
Officials said NATO was succeeding in ratcheting up its attacks to destroy Milosevic's military might.
NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said that the Yugoslav Army and paramilitary forces in Kosovo were suffering "serious losses" but gave no figures. He said that Yugoslav forces were being continually harassed by the Kosovo Liberation Army.
An Albanian government spokesman reported that there had been a five-hour clash between Yugoslav forces and the KLA just inside the Kosovo border. The fighting was reported to be hand-to-hand combat in an area several kilometers inside Kosovo near Tropoje, Albania.
Media denied full access
In Belgrade, CNN and other media organizations were invited to tape a meeting between moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic.
Reporters were not allowed to question Rugova. A statement was later released saying a political resolution of the Kosovo crisis could not be achieved while the NATO bombing campaign continued.
Asked for reaction to the meeting in Belgrade, Rubin, the State Department spokesman, said the United States does "not conclude, and we would hope that any reasonable viewer would not conclude, that Rugova is speaking and acting freely and openly."
Recriminations continued over the fate of ethnic Albanian refugees killed Wednesday in a convoy along a road leading out of Kosovo. A Yugoslav Foreign Ministry spokesman said it is not enough for NATO to admit it made a mistake that may have resulted in the deaths of ethnic Albanians.
In another development, four Greek trucks with medical supplies crossed into Kovoso from Macedonia in an effort to reach displaced Kosovars. Diplomats have said that Yugoslav authorities have given permission for the mission and for additional Greek trucks to follow with more aid.
Correspondents Brent Sadler, Matthew Chance, Ben Wedeman and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.
U.S. holding Yugoslav officer as POW
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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