Austria envisions aid corridor for ethnic Albanians

Austria is considering establishing a corridor for transporting humanitarian aid supplies to ethnic Albanians remaining in Kosovo, visiting Austrian President Thomas Klestil told Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on Thursday.

Klestil said the Austrian idea has been sent via Russia to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who has basically showed support for the plan if it is conducted under the surveillance of Serb forces, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Klestil said he also sent to Chinese President Jiang Zemin a letter calling for his cooperation in resolving the crisis. Jiang replied China is pursuing a peaceful settlement but that bombing by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must cease first, Klestil was quoted as saying.

Obuchi said he highly appreciates Austrian efforts to help resolve the crisis and explained Japan’s aid package of $200 million for Kosovo refugees.

The two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to ending the crisis as soon as possible, the official said.

Austria, a permanent neutral state, has expressed understanding that Yugoslavia’s actions caused the conflict but it has not allowed NATO planes to fly over its territorial skies since the bombing is being executed without the authorization of the United Nations.

Klestil arrived in Japan on Tuesday for a four-day state visit, the first Austrian President to do so. The visit also marks the 130th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Vienna.