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UN Security Coucil Removes Warning to Slobodan Milosevic

By Craig Turner
and Tyler Marshall
los angeles times
united nations

The UN Security Council sent a new warning Thursday to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic over reported atrocities in Kosovo, and White House national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger indicated that U.S. and other NATO aircraft could strike targets in the breakaway Serbian province in a matter of days.

Spurred by the latest reports of massacres and house burnings in civilian areas of Kosovo, the Security Council condemned the bloodletting and called on Milosevic to identify and prosecute those responsible - believed to be Yugoslav government security forces - and to withdraw his troops and police.

With council members Russia and China still counseling against the use of force, the statement refrained from a specific threat of military punishment. But diplomats here, in Washington and in Europe said they hope that a report on the situation, due no later than Monday, will build further support for an attack.

Annan and other UN officials have been unusually outspoken this week in blaming Serbian troops controlled by the Yugoslav government for the latest outrages in which more than 30 civilians were killed.

"I utterly condemn the wanton killings and excesses by Serbian security forces," Annan said.

If Annan does not sway opinion on the council more strongly in favor of an attack, diplomatic sources suggested that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization might proceed with airstrikes without additional authorization by the council.

At a breakfast meeting with reporters in Washington, Berger said the U.S. could begin assigning aircraft to participate in such strikes as soon as Friday.

"We will designate, as will other NATO forces, particular aircraft wings, particular personnel that will be engaged in this, but that doesn't mean we would move them at that point. The final step is a a decision by NATO itself. Preceding that step, each of the NATO capitals would have to make a political decision (that) it was prepared to act."

Berger, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Defense Secretary William S. Cohen briefed members of the Senate on the situation at a closed meeting late Thursday, and Albright said afterward that "the combined threat of the use of force and diplomacy is the best way of proceeding."

Berger also stressed that the administration prefers a diplomatic solution.