|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on NBC's "Today Show" with Matt Lauer
Cologne, Germany, June 9, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
MR. LAUER: On Close-Up this morning, an end to the war. There is a basic agreement between the West and Russia on a plan to send peacekeepers into Kosovo, perhaps within a week.
Madeleine Albright is the U.S. Secretary of State. Madame Secretary, good morning to you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning.
MR. LAUER: We're hearing signs of cautious optimism. How close are we to this being a done deal?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, cautious is the right adjective here. We are still waiting for the military technical agreement to be signed between Belgrade and NATO. In typical Milosevic fashion, he is trying to change the various things that need to happen.
We have made very clear that there is a schedule for withdrawal; that once there is a cease-fire and the withdrawal begins and is verifiable, then there will be a suspension in the bombing. The Security Council is waiting, having teed-up the resolution that the G-8 Ministers -- that we worked on yesterday here in Germany. They should be able to vote on that the minute that there is this bombing suspension, and then KFOR, the international force, can go in.
MR. LAUER: Let me just try and see if I can clarify that. It's been my understanding that the Serbs have said they will not withdraw their forces from Kosovo until the UN Security Council acts on this deal you've put together in Germany.
I've also heard, though, that the Russians and the Chinese don't want any action taken by the UN until there is that suspension in bombing. So exactly what's happening here? What are we waiting for, in terms of timing?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That is the problem at the moment. But the UN is not going to move forward if the Serbs have not signed this agreement. They simply are the ones; everybody is waiting for them to sign the agreement. Then there can be this suspension of bombing, and the Security Council resolution can go forward.
But this resolution we all worked on very hard yesterday – the foreign ministers – it's all set to go. The Serbs, obviously, have had a copy of it; they know all the provisions of it. There is no reason for them not to go forward so that the Security Council can vote.
MR. LAUER: So under no circumstances, Madame Secretary, will you endorse a pause in the bombing until you see signs that the troops have begun to withdraw -- I'm talking about the Serb forces – from Kosovo?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That's right. We have said this now for many, many weeks. The conditions were that there had to be a cease-fire; there had to be a schedule for withdrawals; there had to be verifiable withdrawals; and then there would be a bombing suspension. We have made that very clear, and there is absolutely no reason to change that. It's a necessity, because otherwise, why would we -- we can't trust Milosevic. He has shown there's no reason that we should trust him after what he has done.
This is how we've set it up. It's done in the fairest possible way, because the Security Council resolution has been "teed up" in a way that explains everything.
MR. LAUER: Let's talk about one other issue. The Serbs say that the Albanians returning to Kosovo -- the refugees -- should cross through their border checkpoints, manned by Serb personnel. Now, that would seem to be them saying that they can't maintain the integrity of their territory unless they maintain control over their borders. How do you stand on that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, that, again, is also something that's been discussed for a long time. The Serbs -- there will be Serb observers at the border; that is part of the agreement. All Serb forces have to come out, but part of what's being worked on is that a certain number would be able to observe at the border; others might have some duties in terms of de-mining within Kosovo itself. That's also part of --
MR. LAUER: But it would seem intimidating for the Kosovar Albanians to return through checkpoints manned by Serbs if the Serbs are the people who forced them to leave in the first place.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: They will not be manned by Serbs; that's the difference. Serbs will be there observing. They will be manned by members of this international civilian administration that is going to be going in there. They will have been reissued identity papers. As you know, they were stripped of their identity papers when the Serbs marauded through Kosovo. They have been reissued identity papers. They do not have to be -- they will not be controlled by the Serbs; these checkpoints will not be manned by them.
MR. LAUER: And one final question, Madame Secretary: What does the final Cologne agreement say about the war crimes indictment against Slobodan Milosevic?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It doesn't speak to that, but it does give authority to the War Crimes Tribunal to continue its work in Kosovo. We very specifically have a paragraph in the resolution that demands that countries cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal in their work so that they can pursue their agenda.
MR. LAUER: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Madame Secretary, thank you again for your time.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
[End of Document]