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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CNN's Early Edition
Washington, D.C., May 28, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

QUESTION: Is NATO now in an awkward position to have to negotiate with an indicted war criminal?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, because I don't think anybody intends to negotiate with him. We have made very clear that there are terms and conditions for the ending of this and that Milosevic and the leaders of Serbia have to accept those terms and conditions. There are no negotiations or attempts to make deals. I really stress that the word negotiate -- we are not negotiating.

QUESTION: So how would you characterize the Russian envoy's mission or conversation today with Slobodan Milosevic?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: When I spoke with Mr. Chernomyrdin yesterday, he said that he wanted to go to assess the situation in Belgrade and talk to Milosevic to assess his demeanor as a result of the indictments. The Russians do not agree with all the parts of the terms and conditions that NATO has laid down. On the other hand, they would like to see an end to it. But I think that it is not easy for anyone to be Milosevic's defense lawyer.

QUESTION: Well, now that this meeting is taking place, let's talk a little bit more about these indictments. The British Foreign Secretary has said that amnesty is not going to be part of any deal. Do you have any concern though since Russia is not part of NATO, that Russia may strike a deal for some sort of amnesty or protection for Milosevic in exchange for a peace deal?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, the Russians can't make a peace deal by themselves. We have all said that amnesty is not possible. No one has the authority to give him amnesty. This action has been taken as a result of a Security Council organization of the tribunal -- the War Crimes Tribunal -- and the Russians voted for the War Crimes Tribunal. This is an action taken by a Tribunal, with an independent prosecutor representing the international community. So, this is a joint action and amnesty is not possible.

QUESTION: So do you then see the indictments as separate from any sort of resolution for peace in Kosovo at this point?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the point that has to be made here is that we have made clear what the terms and conditions are for ending this. They're very logical. They are all based on the fact that in order to have this end, the refugees have to go back. The refugees will not go back if Serb forces are there. They will not go back if they do not have some protection from an international force and the Americans are not a part of it. The Americans can't be a part of something that NATO is not -- does not have the command structure. So, these are all very logical terms and conditions and they can be explained, which is what Mr. Chernomyrdin, among others, is doing, but they cannot be altered.

QUESTION: With winter looming ahead, is there now a decision on ground troops, and does this indictment then add urgency to try to get some resolution some time in the next three weeks?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think we have wanted to get resolution as quickly as possible all along. Nothing has changed about that. What we have made clear is that we think that the air campaign is working. In the last few days, the heaviest bombing sorties have taken place. The lights are out in Belgrade, and the people of Serbia now are not only are suffering what is happening there, but they are being run, it's very clear, by an indicted war criminal. At some stage they will understand that they cannot benefit from the future of democratic reforms and assistance. So, that is part of a psychological aspect that is working. At the same time, NATO has voted for the expanded KFOR -- a security force that would go in after an agreement, and assessments are being made about other options. President Clinton has made clear that no option is off the table.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you very much, Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State, for joining us on Early Edition.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

[End of Document]

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