Thursday, May 13, 1999

Congressmen tell
Albright their
diplomacy is apt

House peace efforts had been
seen as in conflict with
the administration's

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- Rep. Neil Abercrombie and other House members who had discussed ways to bring peace to Kosovo with their Russian counterparts in Vienna, Austria, two weeks ago, yesterday tried to persuade Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that their efforts were not an inappropriate attempt at free-lance diplomacy.

Albright had requested the meeting with the 11 House members in apparent frustration with a peace effort the administration felt might undermine or conflict with their own negotiations.

At the meeting, Albright seemed intent on asking the 11 to drop the "framework for peace" proposal they had negotiated with members of the Russian Duma, said Abercrombie.

But after hearing reassurances that the delegation had no intention of negotiating a peace treaty and that their aims matched the administration's, she made no such request, he said.

"I said she had to understand that we support her role as secretary of state, but our role is not just to sit on the sidelines," said Abercrombie after the meeting.

Abercrombie described the mood of the meeting as one of "measured intensity and mutual respect."

At his regular news briefing yesterday, State Department Spokesman James P. Rubin said of the meeting that Albright "welcomed the value of parliamentary discussions between members of our respective legislatures. ... She welcomed the members' endorsement of the NATO conditions" for peace.

Meanwhile, the House International Relations Committee is holding a hearing on the delegation's peace resolution. Abercrombie and the others have hoped to pass the resolution in Congress and in Russia's Duma on the same day.

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