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Poll: Support Slipping for Kosovo

May 17, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Americans’ support for the air war over Kosovo, still backed by a majority, is slipping, and more than half favor negotiations to settle the conflict, says a poll released Monday.

A majority, 59 percent, support the air war, and just over half, 52 percent, would support ground troops as a way to end the conflict, according to an ABC-Washington Post poll. But support for the air war has slipped 9 percentage points since early April and support for ground troops to end the conflict dropped 5 percentage points in that time.

A majority, 56 percent, opposes sending in ground troops if there is a good chance that some U.S. soldiers would be killed in the fighting.

Approval of President Clinton’s handling of the Kosovo conflict has dropped from 60 percent to 53 percent in the past month.

Two-thirds said civilian casualties in the NATO airstrikes against Serbia are unavoidable accidents of war. But three weeks ago, more than three-fourths agreed with that statement.

Last week, Clinton explained in detail to military personnel why he thinks the Kosovo policy is justified and the White House has hired a veteran campaign adviser to help publicize the plight of refugees and the NATO campaign during the coming month.

A majority of those polled, 58 percent, said the United States and its allies should negotiate with Serbia on terms for ending the conflict, while 38 percent said Serbia should be required to accept NATO’s terms.

By a 2-1 margin, they said the United States and its European allies were winning the conflict, and 54 percent said they believe this country did the right thing to get involved in the military conflict in Serbia.

The telephone poll of 761 adults was taken Sunday and has an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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