NATO pounds fuel, ammunition facilities in Yugoslavia
China bars U.S. warships from Hong Kong harbor
May 21, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- NATO struck fuel stores outside Belgrade, and hit ammunition storage depots elsewhere as Operation Allied Force continued in Yugoslavia.
Earlier, powerful explosions jarred the Yugoslav capital as the airstrikes continued. Four missiles slammed into fuel storage tanks at Jugopetrol, the main fuel company in Yugoslavia, and damaged the nearby home of the Swiss ambassador who was hosting a diplomatic reception at the time, Belgrade's Beta news agency said.
The explosions blew out some of the windows at the residence, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
Serbian TV also reported strikes in a suburb of Subotica, a Serb city in northern Yugoslavia near the Hungarian border, about 100 miles northwest of Belgrade.
The attacks pushed ahead despite reports that overnight raids 24 hours earlier resulted in civilian deaths at a hospital. Those attacks were the heaviest on the capital since NATO struck the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade two weeks ago -- an act that outraged Beijing and triggered violent protests against the West across China.
In a further sign Beijing has yet to cool from the attack, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement Friday saying U.S. warships are barred from docking in Hong Kong.
"Under current circumstances, the Chinese government decision not to allow U.S. warships to dock in Hong Kong is reasonable," the statement said.
It added that the decision falls "completely within China's domestic sovereignty." The statement did not indicate how long the ships would be barred from the port.
After six hours of talks which lasted until the early morning hours of Friday, U.S. deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott told CNN that diplomatic discussions in Moscow about the ongoing crisis in Yugoslavia were "good" and "sufficiently constructive" and said he and the European negotiator on Kosovo would return to Moscow next week.
Talbott met with Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russia's special envoy on the Balkans, and with Finnish President Martii Ahtisaari, the European special envoy.
Talbott gave few specifics on their talks. The three special representatives met over dinner in the Russian capital, and Chernomyrdin briefed them on his talks Wednesday in Belgrade with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Talbott meets Friday morning with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Ivanov also will hold his own round of discussions with Carl Bildt, the U.N. Special Representative on Kosovo, and with the Greek Foreign Minister.
Talbott told U.S. officials in Washington he came away from his meeting with Chernomyrdin moderately encouraged because Milosevic had agreed the G-8 peace plan should be the foundation for future discussions.
But there remain differences on key elements of the plan. Russia has said NATO must stop the bombing while the 19-member military alliance says Yugoslavia must meet its demands before the bombings stop.
There is also disagreement over the composition of an international peacekeeping force that would enter Kosovo once a peace deal is reached.
NATO insists its forces must be at the core of such a force, but Yugoslavia says countries participating in the bombing should not be allowed to monitor peace in the region.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said late Thursday on CNN's "Larry King Live" that "There is no rift between the United States and the United Kingdom" on the issue of ground troops in Kosovo.
He said that it is "totally untrue that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was dissatisfied with the United States over the ground troops issue -- whether NATO should send troops into Yugoslavia. Cook and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were among guests on the program.
In Washington, Congress passed a $15 billion spending bill to fund the bombing campaign in the Balkans and boost American military readiness -- more than double the amount President Clinton had originally sought.
In a statement released by the White House, Clinton said the bill "sends a clear signal to the Milosevic regime that the Congress and the American people are committted to this mission."
Yugoslav officials said a NATO bomb killed at least three people at a hospital in Belgrade early Thursday.
NATO said one of its laser-guided bombs -- meant for an army barracks -- overshot its target by about 1,500 feet (460 meters). NATO officials said they were investigating the incident, but would not say what the bomb hit.
"When we are sure what happened, we will tell you what happened," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea told reporters in Brussels, Belgium, the alliance's headquarters.
Serbia's government health minister, Leposava Milicevic, said three patients were killed when a hospital was hit. Yugoslav officials took international reporters to view the damage in the affluent Belgrade district of Dedinje, where they were met by a chorus of protesters shouting "Stop the bombing now."
The bomb left a crater 13 feet (4 meters) wide, next to what officials said was a hospital with a gynecology and obstetrics building nearby. It was the only site the international media were taken to see.
In another development, the Pentagon said the Kosovo Liberation Army is beginning to regroup and gain ground as NATO continues to destroy Serb tanks and troops.
"The Yugoslavs thought that they could wipe out the Kosovo Liberation Army in five to seven days. They have not succeeded in doing that," Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said. In two days of fighting earlier this week, KLA forces took control of the town of Jablanica in western Kosovo, capturing Serb military vehicles, mortars and ammunition, NATO said.
The Pentagon said any attempt by Serb forces to retake the town would make the Yugoslav troops easy targets for NATO planes.
"If they concentrate, we'll hit them in concentrations rather than small groups," said Maj. Gen. Charles Wald.
In Belgrade, CNN's Walter Rodgers was one of several journalists taken on a tour of the bombed hospital during daybreak from the previous overnight raids. Yugoslav officials said four people were killed.
"I really as a human being cannot understand such ruthless, abhorrent attacks on medical institutions and civilian targets," one man said.
NATO did not confirm or deny that the hospital was hit.
NATO spokesman Jamie Shea told his daily briefing in Brussels one laser-guided bomb used in the attacks in Belgrade went off course and struck a building 1,500 feet away from the target.
"A NATO bomb went astray and we don't know what it hit," Pentagon spokesman Bacon told reporters later.
NATO pounds Belgrade for second straight day
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