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World - Europe

NATO strikes near Belgrade as diplomatic efforts intensify

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A cracked window to a war

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Strike on Yugoslavia

May 19, 1999
Web posted at: 4:53 a.m. EDT (0853 GMT)

In this story:

Finland mediates U.S., Russia talks

U.N. team to visit Kosovo

Yugoslavs 'ready' to deal?


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Amid a flurry of diplomatic moves and reports that Belgrade could be ready to "cut a deal," NATO planes roared over Yugoslavia late Tuesday and early Wednesday, launching a 56th day of airstrikes on the Balkan nation.

NATO said on Wednesday that even though weather again forced the cancellation of the majority of strike missions, it hit several targets.

NATO said it destroyed six Galeb aircraft on the ground north of Prizren and ground force artillery positions were also hit.

Other targets included a petroleum storage facility in Belgrade, an ammunition plant at Valjevo, army facilities at Sabac and Vranje and radio relay sites at Loznica and Prepolac.

NATO aircraft said all of its aircraft returned safely.

Serbian television said NATO missiles struck a fuel depot and a sugar factory in the southwest Belgrade suburb of Cukarica, but no one was hurt. The Batajnica military airport outside the capital was also hit.

Earlier attacks targeted at least four cities and a highway bridge on the main road from Belgrade to Nis, Yugoslavia's third largest city. Yugoslav media said one woman was killed and 12 injured in the strikes.

NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said Tuesday that allied pilots carried out 556 sorties, including 190 strike sorties and 62 suppression-of-air-defense sorties in the previous day of the air campaign against Yugoslavia.

"Despite the bad weather, we were still able to successfully hit a number of ground targets in Kosovo," Shea said.

Finland mediates U.S., Russia talks

Russian special envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, due to arrive in Belgrade on Wednesday, met Tuesday with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in Helsinki, Finland, to discuss Kosovo peace plans. Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari mediated the talks.

A U.S. official described the meeting as "constructive" and reported "reasonable progress ... in closing some differences."

Chernomyrdin met again with Talbott on Wednesday morning, possibly delaying his departure for Yugoslavia, U.S. officials said.

NATO is demanding that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic withdraw his estimated 40,000 troops and special police from Kosovo, permit the return of some 790,000 ethnic Albanian refugees and the deployment of an international peacekeeping force and engage in serious discussions about the province's political future.

U.N. team to visit Kosovo

A U.N. inspection team planned to leave Belgrade on Wednesday for Kosovo, to make the world body's first eyewitness assessment of humanitarian needs and the scale of destruction in the province since the bombing started March 24.

The Kosovo visit was scheduled to go forward despite a car accident Tuesday that injured two members of the U.N. team.

The accident happened near Zrenjanin, just north of Belgrade. Witnesses said an oncoming car forced the driver of one of the U.N. vehicles to slam on the brakes. The vehicle skidded and landed in a ditch upside down.

The two U.N. members, who were not identified, underwent surgery for fractures at a Belgrade hospital. Their condition was stable, officials said.

Yugoslavs 'ready' to deal?

All-weather Apache helicopters may not see action in Kosovo because clearing skies have made other aircraft more effective, Pentagon officials said Tuesday  

David Scheffer, the U.S. ambassador-at-large who specializes in war crimes, appeared at Tuesday's NATO briefing with Shea and accused the Serb military of gross atrocities.

"With the exception of Rwanda in 1994 and Cambodia in 1975, you would be hard-pressed to find a crime scene anywhere in the world, since World War II, where a defenseless civilian population has been assaulted with such ferocity and criminal intent, and suffered so many multiple violations of international humanitarian law in such a short period of time, as in Kosovo since mid-March 1999," Scheffer said.

He also accused the Serb military of playing a shell game with refugees and putting them in harm's way.

The Yugoslav Foreign Ministry issued a "categorical denial" of those charges Tuesday, and said Belgrade wants to find a way to end the crisis in Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians seek independence or autonomy from Serbia.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nebojsa Vujovic said Yugoslavia is "ready to cut a deal," although he offered no evidence that Milosevic was prepared to meet all of NATO's conditions.

Vujovic was not specific about what concessions Yugoslavia would be willing to make. Yugoslavia has flatly rejected an armed international peacekeeping mission with NATO at its core, one of NATO's strongest demands.

Correspondents Walter Rodgers, Andrea Koppel and Patricia Kelly contributed to this report.

Serb officials say Yugoslavia 'ready to cut a deal'
May 18, 1999
NATO says 'human shields' account for bombing deaths
May 17, 1999
U.N. delegation heading to Yugoslavia
May 15, 1999
Yugoslavia says village death toll tops 100
May 14, 1999
Rugova in Britain to promote return of Kosovo refugees
May 14, 1999
Hillary Clinton hears Kosovars' tales of tears
May 14, 1999
Clinton calls Chinese president with apology
May 14, 1999
Finnish leader to join Chernomyrdin on Belgrade visit
May 14, 1999

Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
  • Kosovo

  • 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

  • F-117s arrive at Aviano to support possible NATO operations
  • 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

  • Doctors Without Borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • The IOM Migration Web
  • InterAction
  • 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
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • 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
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Tribune
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of P.R.China
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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