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BELGRADE DISPATCH

April 13, 1999

BELGRADE DISPATCH BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)
(Voice of America)

INTRO: A RUSSIAN AID CONVOY FINALLY ARRIVED IN BELGRADE TUESDAY, BUT TOO LATE FOR THE ORTHODOX EASTER CELEBRATION. THE AUTHORITIES IN HUNGARY HELD UP THE TRUCKS FOR THREE DAYS. THREE WEEKS OF BOMBING BY NATO IS TAKING ITS TOLL ON YUGOSLAVIA’S INFRASTRUCTURE. GUY DINMORE REPORTS.

TEXT: HUNGARIAN BORDER GUARDS HELD UP THE CONVOY OF 73 VEHICLES THAT CROSSED THROUGH UKRAINE FROM RUSSIA BECAUSE FIVE WERE ARMORED AND FOUR CARRIED DIESEL FUEL. HUNGARY, WHICH JUST THIS MONTH JOINED NATO, ARGUED THAT THESE NINE VEHICLES COULD HELP YUGOSLAVIA’S MILITARY. BUT AFTER A THREE DAY DELAY, THE REST OF THE TRUCKS, CARRYING FOOD AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES, WERE ALLOWED TO PASS.

AIR RAIDS MONDAY NIGHT INFLICTED SERIOUS DAMAGE ON TARGETS ACROSS SERBIA (YUGOSLAVIA’S DOMINANT REPUBLIC), DESPITE HEAVY ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE FROM THE SUBURBS OF BELGRADE. THE MAIN OIL REFINERY AT PANCEVO, JUST OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL, WAS DESTROYED IN A BALL OF FIRE.

NATO SAID SERBIA COULD NO LONGER MAKE FUEL OR LUBRICANTS. RESIDENTS SAY, HOWEVER, THAT LIMITED AMOUNTS OF FUEL ARE GETTING ACROSS THE BORDER FROM THE SERB-CONTROLLED HALF OF EASTERN BOSNIA. FOUR YEARS AGO, DURING THE BOSNIAN WAR, IT WAS SERBIA THAT SUPPLIED THE BOSNIAN SERBS WITH FUEL. BUT NOW DESPERATELY NEEDED PETROL AND DIESEL ARE BEING SMUGGLED IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

NATO ALSO CONTINUED TO TARGET AIRPORTS, FUEL DEPOTS AND BRIDGES IN AN ATTEMPT TO BRING THE YUGOSLAV ARMY OF PRESIDENT SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC TO A HALT.

BUT THE STRIKES ARE ALSO INFLICTING SERIOUS CASUALTIES AMONG CIVILIANS. FOREIGN REPORTERS WERE TAKEN TO BELGRADE’S MILITARY HOSPITAL WHERE SIX PEOPLE, INCLUDING A 14 YEAR-OLD BOY, WERE SEEN IN INTENSIVE CARE. DOCTORS SAID NONE OF THEM WOULD SURVIVE. THE HOSPITAL ITSELF WAS ALSO DAMAGED IN MONDAY NIGHT’S RAIDS. SOME PATIENTS WERE INJURED BY FLYING GLASS AND DEBRIS.

THE RAIDS ON CIVILIAN TARGETS ARE FUELING ANTI-WESTERN SENTIMENT AMONG SERBS — WHO ARE TURNING TO THEIR FELLOW ORTHODOX SLAVS IN RUSSIA FOR HELP. A BID BY YUGOSLAVIA TO JOIN A UNION WITH RUSSIA AND BELARUS WAS TURNED DOWN BY MOSCOW TUESDAY — AT LEAST UNTIL THE CONFLICT WITH NATO IS OVER.

MR. MILOSEVIC IS SHOWING NO SIGNS OF INTENDING TO ACCEPT NATO’S DEMANDS OVER KOSOVO PROVINCE. BUT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, IN A SOFTENING OF BELGRADE’S POSITION, HAVE INDICATED THAT SOME KIND OF INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING FORCE WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE. DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER VUK DRASKOVIC SUGGESTED THAT THE BASIS FOR COMPROMISE WOULD BE A MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE THAT EXCLUDED TROOPS FROM COUNTRIES TAKING PART IN NATO’S AIR CAMPAIGN. (SIGNED)
NEB/GD/JO
13-Apr-99 3:56 PM EDT (1956 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America

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