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Saturday, May 29, 1999 Published at 02:24 GMT 03:24 UK

World: Americas

US support for strikes slips

Support is growing in the US for a pause in the bombing

Polls in the US show a steady softening in support both for Nato air strikes and for President Clinton.

A poll released by the US TV network CBS on 18 May showed that public support for the air strikes had fallen to 49%.

Support had been as high as 59% in mid-April when Kosovar refugees began streaming out of the country, according to CBS polls.

The Washington Post said that its polls suggest "that war fatigue has set in after seven weeks of bombing."

"While the erosion in support remains modest and perhaps only temporary, it signals the first significant decline in public support for military action in Yugoslavia since the crisis began," the Post continued.

Support for negotiations

[ image: The US public is sympathetic to Kosovar refugees]
The US public is sympathetic to Kosovar refugees
Many of the polls showed that the US public supports a temporary halt in the bombing to open the way for a diplomatic settlement.

A CNN poll released 25 May showed that the US public did not support a permanent halt to the bombings. The government has been effective in stirring sympathy for Kosovar refugees, the polls suggested.

But, 82% of those polled wanted a temporary halt in air strikes so that Nato could pursue a negotiated settlement.

The CBS poll on 18 May showed that while 42% of those polled supported continuing air strikes until Milosevic withdraws all troops from Kosovo, half of respondents would prefer a halt in the bombing to allow for negotiations.

Opinion diverged widely on what concessions Nato should make in order to open the way for talks.

A Washington Post poll showed that half of the public agreed with Nato's position that the bombing should continue until Milosevic allows a Nato-led peace-keeping force in Kosovo, but nearly the same percentage of respondents suggest that Nato should be flexible on this requirement.

President's support slips

[ image: President Clinton's approval rating has reached a new low]
President Clinton's approval rating has reached a new low
As support has waned for the air campaign so has support for President Clinton's handling of the conflict and his approval rating in general.

The Washington Post said that 53% of respondents approved of Mr Clinton's handling of the situation in Kosovo.

The CNN poll showed that the President Clinton's approval rating has dipped by seven points in the last two weeks to 53%. It stands as the lowest approval rating during his second term.

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