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NATO Mulls Kosovo Oil Embargo

On the second day of NATO's 50th anniversary summit, the allies were still considering ways to tackle their main concern, the Kosovo crisis. The biggest problem Saturday was a decision to implement an oil embargo.

President Clinton said he hoped it would not be necessary for the U.S. Navy to stop and search any Russian merchant ships on the high seas, reports CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Scott Pelley.

Russia is an ally and oil supplier to Yugoslavia. Mr. Clinton warned that NATO would be firm in enforcing an oil embargo. The allies hope to "switch off the oil tap" fueling Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's military machine.

But Russia, angry about 32 days of airstrikes against Yugoslavia, indicated it would ignore an embargo.

"According to international law, sanctions cannot be imposed unless they are approved by the (U.N.) Security Council," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on a trip to Egypt. "We will continue delivering oil in keeping with our international commitments."

And in Moscow, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the world "may slip toward a third world war, the final war" as a result of NATO's bombing. Chernomyrdin, Russia's mediator on Kosovo, also said he had received invitations from the leaders of several NATO countries to discuss his recent efforts to end the crisis.

NATO leaders also expressed concerns about stopping ships.

"According to international rules, it is an act of war" to stop and forcibly search ships on the seas, French President Jacques Chirac said. "So we must be very cautious."

He said France supports NATO's determination to prevent any material useful to Yugoslav military forces from reaching them and he urged all democratic nations to support the embargo.

President Clinton stood firmly behind the strategy.

"How can we justify risking the lives of the pilots to go off and destroy the refinery and the supply capacity of Serbia and then say it's OK if people want to continue to supply this nation and its outlaw actions in Kosovo in another way?" he asked.

President Clinton told reporters that victory will require patience.

"We are doing what needs to be done here with great vigor and I am convinced we will prevail if we have the patience. We have to be prepared not only to execute with determination but to pay the price of time," Mr. Clinton said.

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the alliance would do "whatever is in our means and our capabilities" to enforce such an embargo. He, too, said he hoped it would not be necessary to challenge Russian ships. Solana would not state a legal basis for interdicting ships at sea, but he told reporters, "I will give you an answer before I leave Washington tomorrow night."

The idea of a naval embargo took center stage on a day that NATO leaders were agreeing to enlarge the alliance's mission so as to confroncrises beyond its borders -- such as other Kosovos -- and to intensify the battle against ethnic conflict, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Clinton also brought up the three American servicemen captured by Serb forces. He complained that Milosevic has denied the soldiers Red Cross visits while telling American television audiences he would permit them. However, reports Saturday said that a top Red Cross official planned to meet Milosevic about the matter on Monday.

The summit expanded beyond the 19 NATO countries to include leaders of 23 nations in a partnership with the alliance. With President Clinton as their host, they all were invited to the White House for dinner under a huge tent on the South Lawn.

Despite objections from Russia to NATO expansion, the leaders agreed to leave the door open to more new members. The alliance expanded to 19 countries this year with the inclusion of former Russian satellites Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

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