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Tuesday, May 4, 1999 Published at 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK

World: Americas

US Senate shelves Kosovo motion

The US Congress and the public oppose combat troops in Kosovo

The US Senate has refused to consider a motion that would have given the President Bill Clinton the authority to "use all necessary force" to achieve Nato's goals in Kosovo.

The vote was 78-22 against, which means that the motion is now shelved but can be reconsidered at another time.

The measure is highly sensitive politically, and the White House itself had not endorsed it.

It would have opened the way for the president to send ground troops to Kosovo, but as President Clinton prepares to leave for Europe to meet with Nato leaders and US troops, both Congress and the public remain opposed to the use of ground forces.

[ image: Senator John McCain: President is
Senator John McCain: President is "prepared to lose a war"
Republican Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, had introduced the measure.

However, his fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said, "this is the wrong language and it's at the wrong time."

Mr Lott has been one of many congressional leaders calling for renewed diplomatic efforts.

After the measure was set aside, Mr McCain accused President Clinton of being "prepared to lose a war" by repeatedly ruling out the use of ground forces.

His Democratic counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, defended Mr Clinton.

"The president has not asked for this authority, nor have his military advisors. ... This is not a matter of a lack of courage," Mr Daschle said.

Congress appeals for peace

Other lawmakers urged Mr Clinton to pursue a negotiated settlement.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers returning from meeting their Russian counterparts in Vienna have asked the president to consider a pause in bombing to encourage Slobodan Milosevic to yield to an international force.

Republican Representative Brad Sherman said that if the allies were able to reach an agreement as a result of a pause in bombing, it "is a more humanitarian outcome than if we achieve all of our objectives after three or four months of bombing."

US public opposed to ground troops

[ image: The US public supports the air strikes but not ground troops]
The US public supports the air strikes but not ground troops
US public opinion has changed little in the last month.

Polls show the public supports the country's participation in Nato airstrikes, but they remain opposed to sending ground troops to win the war.

A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 58% of respondents supported the airstrikes, but the same poll found a majority remains opposed to ground troops.

But while the public is opposed to sending ground troops for combat, two-thirds of those polled approved of US troops serving as peacekeepers in Kosovo once an agreement is in place.

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