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Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 22:57 GMT 23:57 UK

World: Europe

Clinton warns Serbs over soldiers

The three US soldiers bore some signs of injury

 Click here for live coverage on the crisis
Click here for map showing refugee movements

Kosovo: Special Report
President Bill Clinton has said there is no basis for three US soldiers captured by Serb forces to be put on trial in Yugoslavia.

He warned that President Milosevic would be held responsible for their safety and well-being.

The Yugoslav state-run media reported that the soldiers would go on trial on Friday before a military court. The US State Department immediately described the move as "a violation of international law".

Bill Clinton addresses US servicemen's families and President Milosevic
President Clinton told a meeting of military personnel: "There was absolutely no basis for them to be taken ... and there is certainly no basis for them to be tried."

And he reiterated his resolve to press on with Nato's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia until the Kosovo Albanians were able to return in safety.

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The three US soldiers - who were paraded on Serbian television showing some signs of physical injury - were from a peace-keeping unit based in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

General Wesley Clark, Nato's Supreme Commander in Europe, said he was "very concerned" about the safety of the soldiers. He said they had been "abducted" by the Serbs inside Macedonia.

Stephen Sackur: Perception in US is that Nato strikes are not working
Serbian television said they had been captured on Yugoslav territory.

The Pentagon named the three captured men as Steven M Gonzales, Andrew A Ramirez and Christopher J Stone.

The US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, told the BBC's Newsnight programme the capture was "another outrage to be chalked up against the long record of outrages perpetrated by the Belgrade regime".

Mr Talbott is to lead a US delegation this week to several countries in the region to thank them for supporting Nato operations.

US sends extra Stealth bombers

The Pentagon has announced it is deploying an additional 13 F-117 Stealth fighters for use in Nato air strikes.

[ image: The US had been tight-lipped about the cause of the crash]
The US had been tight-lipped about the cause of the crash
The US has also acknowledged for the first time that the F-117 that crashed near Belgrade last week was shot down.

The confirmation came during President Clinton's speech in which he referred to the plane having been hit.

Yugoslavia said from the start that it had shot down the aircraft. The pilot ejected safely and was picked up by a search and rescue team hours after the crash.

US rejects Russian diplomacy

Bridget Kendall reports on a number of Serb propaganda victories
The United States has rejected a call by Russian President Boris Yeltsin for an emergency meeting of the world's leading industrialised nations - the G8 - to find a political solution to the crisis.

In Moscow's second peace initiative on Kosovo in three days, Mr Yeltsin went on Russian television to warn that the fighting in Yugoslavia threatened disaster for the whole of Europe and there was no time to lose.

He said the mission of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to Belgrade on Tuesday had shown that the crisis could and should be solved by negotiations.

But the United States said it saw no benefit in a meeting of the G8 countries. Britain said the time might come when such talks would be useful - but the priority now was to get President Milosevic to halt his repression.

Nato goals 'unchanged'

[ image: Serbian TV showed the wrecked bridge]
Serbian TV showed the wrecked bridge
Nato Secretary-General, Javier Solana said on Thursday that after a week of Nato operations, the alliance was confident it was having a major impact on Belgrade's "criminal war machine".

He said the alliance remained united and it was determined to end the killing and destruction in Kosovo.

In another night of raids, a road bridge over the Danube River became the first major civilian target to be hit by Nato.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles: "Bridge was an important transit route"
Harbour authorities upstream in Austria said the Danube - a key shipping route to the Black Sea - had been blocked to navigation.

Milsosevic installs close ally

In a reshuffle of several senior military posts, President Milosevic removed the army chief in Montenegro and replaced him with one of his own close allies, General Milorad Obradovic.

Correspondents say the move has raised tensions in Montenegro, where the pro-Western government has been opposing the direction taken by Belgrade.

Refugees packed 'like sardines'

[ image: Albanian border: The queue of refugees stretches miles back into Kosovo]
Albanian border: The queue of refugees stretches miles back into Kosovo
The UN says 25,000 Kosovo Albanians have been forcibly taken from Kosovo to neighbouring Macedonia in special trains over the last two days.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said six trains had arrived at the border with civilians crammed into the coaches "like sardines."

The passengers had been rounded up in what appeared to be a "deliberate and systematic policy to railroad large sections of the population into exile," Mr Eckhard said.

Correspondent Clarence Mitchell: "Ethnic cleansing at its most brutal"
A BBC correspondent on the border crossing with Albania says the rate of refugees leaving Kosovo is at its highest since the humanitarian crisis began.

Albanian officials say 113,000 have crossed so far, more than 20,000 in the last day.

The European Union opened a conference near Bonn on co-ordinating help for the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Kosovo.

The German Deputy Foreign Minister, Guenter Verheugen, has said that accommodating the refugees in western and northern Europe would send a completely wrong signal - that the Kosovo Albanians would never be able to live in Kosovo again.

Several European countries have already pledged aid, and President Clinton has authorised $50m in emergency relief.

[ image:  ]

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