Clinton Adds Kosovo To Trip Itinery
Nov. 11, 1999
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton is cutting short a visit to Greece because of security concerns, but will add a visit war-torn Kosovo.
Scaling down Clinton's visit to Greece, officials said Wednesday there were fears not only for Clinton but also for members of his staff and the traveling press. The United States also expressed unhappiness about Greece's response to terrorism.
Clinton has wanted to visit Kosovo ever since June when a U.S.-led bombing campaign forced Serb troops to withdraw from the Yugoslav province. The White House has been reluctant to schedule a stop until now because of outbursts of violence and bloodshed.
Officials said the Kosovo visit probably would be limited to a matter of hours at the end of his European trip, which begins Sunday. U.S. and allied military forces helping maintain peace in Kosovo will increase security for the president.
A three-day visit to Athens was to lead off an 11-day trip also taking Clinton to Turkey, Italy, Bulgaria and Kosovo. Greece will be wedged in between Turkey and Italy, and Clinton's stay will be cut to about a day. The White House said Greece had recommended the changes.
``We have some concern on security,'' presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart said. State Department spokesman James Rubin, discussing Greece's response to terrorism, said: ``Obviously we are not satisfied. We think more needs to be done.''
Security issues are always a major issue in presidential travels but rarely receive the prominence of this case or provoke such a public change in schedule. Rubin defended the handling of the situation.
``It would be a grave error,'' he said, ``to dismiss security concerns and then potentially have a disaster on our hands.''
Clinton is to leave Washington early Sunday and return Nov. 23. Originally he was to have departed Friday evening.