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Clinton Commits Troops to Kosovo

February 13, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton said today that as many as 4,000 American troops would be committed to a NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo if Serbs and ethnic Albanians reach a political settlement.

``Bosnia taught us a lesson: In this volatile region, violence we fail to oppose leads to even greater violence we will have to oppose later at greater cost,″ Clinton said in his weekly radio broadcast from the Oval Office.

``We must heed that lesson in Kosovo.″

Clinton said he would order the deployment of U.S. ground troops only after ``close consultation with Congress″ _ and only if a peace agreement is reached in talks underway in Paris.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was heading for Paris today to assess progress between the two warring sides. The parties have an informal deadline of Feb. 20 for reaching an accord.

``There are serious obstacles to overcome,″ Clinton said.

``It is increasingly clear that this effort can only succeed if it includes a NATO-led peace implementation force that gives both sides the confidence to lay down their arms,″ Clinton said. ``It’s also clear that if there is a real peace, American participation in the force can provide such confidence, particularly for Kosovo’s Albanians.″

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