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Yugoslavia: Clinton Considers All Options For Kosovo

Washington, 7 May 1998 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has reaffirmed that no option has been ruled out in the search for a solution to the Kosovo crisis, but he also says the U.S. can't be put in the position of having to send troops to the former Yugoslavia every time there is a dispute.

At a press conference in Washington Tuesday, Clinton said the U.S. and its European allies do not, in his words, want another Bosnia -- a former Yugoslav republic that was torn by four years of civil war. However, he says there must be a peaceful way to resolve the conflict between the Serbian government and the predominantly ethnic Albanians inhabiting its Kosovo province.

Clinton said the situation in Kosovo took up a major portion of his talks Tuesday with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. The U.S. and Italy are members of the six-nation Contact Group that is trying to pressure Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to start talks with the Kosovars, who want more political power in the province.

Said Clinton: "The absence of genuine dialogue there is fueling a conflict that could threaten regional stability. We're working urgently to establish unconditional talks that can avert escalating violence. But we must, and will, be ready to substantially turn up the pressure on Belgrade should it keep blocking the search for a political solution or revert to indiscriminate force."

Prodi said he agreed with Clinton in that no option should be ruled out in the search for a solution to the Kosovo crisis, but he and Clinton both said there was no talk of sending troops to that part of the Balkans. A NATO alliance force is already in Bosnia implementing a peace agreement.

Clinton said that while the Kosovo crisis seemed intractable, it is not difficult to understand.

Clinton said: "The Serbs don't want to give up a big part of their country, which ... is legally part of their country." But he said the legitimate aspirations of the Kosovars, including "some measure of self-government," have to be met.

Clinton said the sides need to talk. He said: "There are 50 different ways this could be worked out in a humane, legitimate way. They do not have to kill each other to get this done, and they should not do that."