U.S. envoy meets defiant Milosevic as NATO strikes loom

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) — Moving closer to NATO airstrikes, the United States told Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on Tuesday that he has failed to show the West he really means to end his harsh crackdown in Kosovo province.
U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke met Milosevic for the second day Tuesday after visiting the southern Serbian province, where Yugoslav forces were battling ethnic Albanian rebels seeking independence.
In Washington, President Clinton said Holbrooke was telling the Yugoslav leader that NATO is prepared to act if Milosevic fails to honor U.N. resolutions ordering him to withdraw from areas of conflict and allow a political settlement.
He warned that, unchecked, Serb violence in the province could lead to instability throughout the region.
Milosevic’s seven-month crackdown against the secessionists has killed hundreds, left tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians homeless and led to growing resolve among NATO allies to stop the bloodshed by striking Yugoslav army targets if necessary.
The United States is trying to get Milosevic and the ethnic Albanians to agree on a deal that would defer for two or three years a decision on whether Kosovo would separate from Serbia. But the ethnic Albanians have refused to negotiate with Milosevic, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright voiced skepticism Milosevic would adhere to any such plan.
The rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, whose attacks on Serb police prompted the crackdown, has rejected any peace formula short of full independence. The KLA has urged NATO to attack.