World Leaders Pledge Balkan Rebuilding at Summit Group to Meet Soon on Postwar Effort

The Florida Times Union, June 21, 1999 | Go to article overview

World Leaders Pledge Balkan Rebuilding at Summit Group to Meet Soon on Postwar Effort


COLOGNE, Germany -- Ending a summit dominated by Kosovo, world leaders pledged strong efforts yesterday to maintain peace and rebuild the war-torn region.

At the suggestion of President Clinton, they said they'll meet again in the Balkans to review postwar reconstruction plans.

"I am leaving here with real confidence that we are going to succeed in achieving all of our objectives," Clinton said after the three-day summit ended.

In a concession to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who attended only the last day of the meeting, the final summit communique had no specific ban on providing reconstruction aid to Moscow's ally Yugoslavia while President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power.

But British Prime Minister Tony Blair and several of the other leaders remained adamant that while the province of Kosovo is rebuilt, the rest of Yugoslavia will receive only humanitarian assistance as long as Milosevic is in charge of the two-state federation of Serbia and Montenegro.

"We cannot start giving money to a regime that has perpetrated brutality and barbarism and the Serbian people must understand that," Blair said.

There were different views among leaders, however, on what qualified for humanitarian assistance, with some suggesting that rebuilding bombed-out power plants and roads might qualify.

"Where do we make the division between humanitarian aid and development aid? That's what we have to work out," French President Jacques Chirac said.

Clinton cautioned that the United States and Europe, which will pay most of the rebuilding tab, face difficult times and massive costs for Kosovo, but he said the money will be well spent.

"The costliest peace is cheaper than the cheapest war," the president said last night, speaking to the American diplomatic community in nearby Bonn.

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