Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Ambassador Christopher Hill, Remarks at press availability, Belgrade, Serbia, December 16, 1998


AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE:  Ambassador Hill and I have just completed about
5 hours of talks with President Milosevic.  And we will leave tomorrow
morning.  Ambassador Hill will brief the Italian Government, Foreign
Minister Lamberto Dini, in Rome and I will return to the United States
to brief Secretary Albright and the National Security Council.
Tonight's meeting focused on a variety of issues throughout the region,
including the situation in Bosnia and Dayton implementation, the issues
of the media here in Belgrade and the rest of Yugoslavia, and of course
very much on Kosovo.

This trip was planned before the events of yesterday.  But of course
the events of yesterday changed the agenda considerably and dominated
our discussion from the beginning.  So let me repeat what Ambassador
Walker and I said in Pristina earlier today, and I'll ask Chris to add
a few words.  All the incidents that threaten stability and lead to
violence are lamentable in Kosovo.  And the Kosovo Verification Mission
is rapidly looking into all of them.  But the one that really upset us,
the one that we find appalling beyond words, is what appears to have
been a wanton attack upon a group of primarily teenagers in the "Panda
Bar" in Pec.  At least six are dead.  At least 15 are hospitalized; we
have been told that not all of the 15 may survive.  We understand there
will be a large funeral in Pec tomorrow.  The situation will obviously
be highly emotional.  That's understandable.  There is no excuse for
this kind of action -- no justification, whoever perpetrates it, and
any sort of reprisals will only make the situation worse.  And we
condemn it in the strongest possible terms.  The victims, six young
Serb youths, were unarmed, obviously.  They were in a bar, and they are
simply the victims of this inexplicable act.  And our sympathies are
with them and their families.  Ambassador Hill, Chris--do you want to
add anything about your activities, or where we are?


AMBASSADOR HILL:  Well, let me just say we also had a good discussion
on the political settlement.  And we agreed that the process very much
continues.  But we also agreed that there are still a lot of
differences -- enormous differences -- between the parties.  We will
continue to work to try to narrow those differences, and I will be back
in Pristina on Thursday.  We will see if we can make some more
progress.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE:  We will take a couple of questions because we
are not going to have time to see you again before we leave.

QUESTION:  Are you satisfied with the peace process so far?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE:  We are never satisfied -- that's why we are
here.  If we were satisfied, we would not be here tonight.

QUESTION:  Did you make any progress in bringing the Serbs and
Albanians closer to fact-to-face negotiations?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE:  I don't think the issue is getting them face to
fact.  It's the substance that divides them.  The gap between the Serbs
and Albanians on the future of Kosovo and its population is very great.
Ambassador Hill is the designated interlocutor between these two sides.
He is working tirelessly on this issue, and will continue to do so.
That's what we are here to do, is to lessen this gap.  And to lessen it
before the situation deteriorates on the ground again as it did in the
most inexcusable way this summer when the Serb security forces went on
a rampage.

QUESTION:  Do you think they would again, maybe?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE:  Our job is to prevent a repetition of what
happened this summer, and restraint on both sides is essential.  And
that's why we are so appalled at the attack that killed the six young
Serbs in Pec yesterday.

QUESTION:  What is the biggest problem in the peace process?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE:  The biggest problem?  There are a lot of big
problems.  I think you know the list just as well as we do.  Any other
questions?  Thank you very much.

[End of Document]


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