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Serbia: Clinton Wants Swift NATO Planning On Kosova

Washington, 10 June 1998 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has asked NATO to quickly formulate plans on how to deal with violence in the Serbian province of Kosova.

Clinton told a White House news conference Tuesday he wants to avoid a repetition of ethnic cleansing that devastated Bosnia.

The American president said: "I have authorized and approved accelerated NATO planning."

Clinton made the comment at a joint news conference with visiting South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung.

He said: "The main thing is I am determined to do all I can to stop a repeat of the human carnage in Bosnia and the ethnic cleansing."

Clinton said no options -- including military ones - "should be taken off the table."

Ethnic Albanians make up about 90 percent of Kosova's population. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in Kosova in recent days following renewed Serb offensive against the ethnic Albanians. About 300 people, many of them civilians, have reportedly been killed since the crackdown began in late February.

At the State Department, spokesman James Rubin told reporters that Washington regards the Kosova situation "very serious." But Rubin also said there have been reports indicating a "reduced level of violence" in the province.

NATO defense ministers have scheduled a meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss Kosova.

The United States is working with Britain to draft a resolution on Kosova at the United Nations Security Council.

Clinton said Washington is seeking to push through "the strongest possible resolution."

Rubin said the U.S. wants a Security Council directive "that would authorize all necessary means to be used in order to restore peace and stability in Kosova."

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service announced that residents of Kosova already in the United States are eligible to apply for temporary refugee status through June 8, 1999.

The United States and its European allies have imposed fresh economic sanctions on Federal Yugoslavia aimed at forcing Belgrade to undertake a serious dialogue with Kosova's ethnic Albanian leadership.

The sanctions include the prohibition of new investments in Serbia.