U.S. envoy gives Milosevic another chance to avoid strike

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) — A U.S. envoy gave Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic another chance Wednesday to bow to international demands and avoid NATO airstrikes. But Milosevic remained defiant.
Following his meeting with envoy Richard Holbrooke, Milosevic’s office said “attempts were made to overcome the differences” over the crisis in Kosovo province.
Referring to the possibility of NATO airstrikes, the Yugoslav statement said “the threats which are delivered to our country jeopardize the continuation of the political process.”
It accused foreign governments of waging “a media campaign against our country” through “one-sided and fabricated reports.”
U.S. officials refused comment on the talks, and Holbrooke left for Brussels, Belgium, to meet Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Thursday.
Before the talks ended, President Clinton reiterated that Milosevic has to end his crackdown in Kosovo, pull out his special police force and resume negotiations. Kosovo is a province of Serbia, the main republic of Yugoslavia.
But 90 percent of its 2 million inhabitants are ethnic Albanians, and most favor independence or substantial self-rule.
Milosevic launched his crackdown Feb. 28 against the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army, which is fighting for independence for Kosovo. Hundreds have been killed and more than 270,000 people have been driven from their homes.
Despite mounting evidence of Milosevic’s non-compliance and a U.N. declaration confirming it, Washington seemed to lack the international consensus needed to bomb Milosevic into compliance.
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 to separate Kosovo from Serbia.