Accessibility links

Breaking News

Yugoslavia: Western Leaders Reject Serbian Argument, Reiterate Strike Threat

Brussels, 12 June 1998 (RFE/RL) -- British and U.S. officials today rejected Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's contention that events in Kosova are strictly Serbia's business. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, speaking in London, accused Milosevic of "ethnic cleansing" in the Serbian province of Kosova that has left 50,000 ethnic Albanians homeless. Cook said Milosevic's policies have made Kosova a concern for "the whole world."

Meanwhile, in Brussels, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen told his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeev, that NATO is not bluffing with its threats of air strikes if Milosevic doesn't end Serb attacks on Kosovar villages. Cohen says NATO does not need approval from the United Nations Security Council for the strikes, or to send troops into Kosova.

Sergeev said that diplomatic measures are needed more than military action. Russian President Boris Yeltsin plans to meet in Moscow next week with Milosevic to work for a solution. Russia and China, both members of the Security Council, have said they will not support NATO troops in Kosova.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from the six-nation Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia are meeting in London today. Cook said he expects the Contact Group to issue a list of demands to Milosevic, including an end to Serb violence and a start to serious negotiations on enhanced autonomy for Kosova.

NATO defense ministers yesterday authorized military air exercises in Albania and Macedonia.