Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Russian Envoy, Jackson Fail to Move Clinton

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Russian Envoy, Jackson Fail to Move Clinton

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Despite a round of vigorous diplomacy mediated by a senior Russian envoy, President Clinton declared yesterday that NATO intends to maintain its bombardment of Yugoslavia until President Slobodan Milosevic meets alliance demands on Kosovo.

Clinton said NATO would stop the bombing only when Milosevic provides "clear and convincing evidence" that he has begun withdrawing his troops from the province and is prepared to let hundreds of thousands of refugees back in under the protection of an international force.

Clinton made his remarks shortly before meeting at the White House with Russia's Balkans troubleshooter, Viktor Chernomyrdin, who has been trying to broker a settlement between NATO and Yugoslavia.

But nothing emerged from the meeting to suggest immediate progress toward a settlement. A senior Clinton administration official, speaking on condition that he not be identified, did not rule out progress over "some days, some weeks," but he cautioned against expecting a "magic breakthrough in the next nanosecond."

Chernomyrdin delivered a letter to Clinton from Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The senior administration official characterized the letter as containing "some ideas . . . about process, of how this might move forward."

Emerging from his meeting with Clinton, Chernomyrdin said: "We got closer to a diplomatic solution" after discussing "the circumstances and the conditions" under which NATO would begin a bombing pause. "It's a very complicated issue we'll keep on working," the former Russian prime minister told reporters.

The meetings in Washington followed NATO's most intense and sophisticated aerial attacks on Yugoslavia since the campaign began on March 24. Using special bombs designed to create massive short circuits without taking any lives, NATO warplanes temporarily knocked out not only much of the Yugoslav army's command-and-control capability, but also electrical service to 70 percent of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic.

The new bombs detonated in the air and produced showers of highly conductive carbon filaments. "NATO has its finger on the light switch in Yugoslavia now," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said in Brussels, Belgium, "and we can turn the power off whenever we need to and whenever we want to. …

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