Albright: Milosevic Is Finished

Saturday, September 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urged Russia on Saturday to accept that Slobodan Milosevic was ``finished'' as president of Yugoslavia.

Albright was reacting to news that Russian President Vladimir Putin had offered to send Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to Belgrade to talk to both sides in Yugoslavia's election standoff.

So far, Russia hasn't taken sides in the dispute over who won Yugoslavia's presidential vote on Sunday. Opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica says he beat President Slobodan Milosevic outright, while Milosevic says a runoff is necessary to determine the winner because Kostunica got less than 50 percent of the vote.

Albright said she planned to speak to Ivanov later in the day, and would stress that Kostunica had won the election.

``I think the Russians need to make clear that they understand that this has been a procedure where the opposition has won,'' Albright said at a news conference in Reykjavik.

``The Russians need to understand that Milosevic lost in this round. He is finished. It is time for him to go.''

Albright also said she had spoken to leading parties in the Middle East peace process in an effort to ease tensions which erupted in violence in Jerusalem.

She said that she had telephoned both Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, and Israel's prime minister Ehud Barak in a bid to keep the peace process on course.

``We are very concerned about the violence. It is clearly counterproductive in the peace process,'' Albright said. ``There is danger of a cycle of violence developing. The talks are at a very delicate stage and it is important that the violence stops.''

Albright stopped briefly in Iceland, a NATO ally, on her way to France and Germany, and met with Foreign Minister Halldor Asgrimsson and Prime Minister David Oddsson.

An agreement between the two countries for the U.S. use of the military base at Keflavik in southwest Iceland is due for renewal in April. Iceland relies on NATO and the U.S. forces for its defense.

Albright said any changes in U.S. commitments to Iceland were unlikely.