CEOL - Clinton Rejects Greek Criticism Over Kosovo

ATHENS, Nov 21, 1999 -- (Reuters) U.S. President Bill Clinton on Saturday rejected criticism of the NATO air war over Kosovo but came close to apologizing for U.S. backing of a former military regime in Greece.

In a speech to Greek business leaders, Clinton said he realized there was "still much anger and anguish" in Greece about the bombing of Yugoslavia but added: "I believe we made the right decision." Leftist protesters rioted against the Clinton visit in Athens on Friday.

"I do not believe we could have allowed an entire people to be exiled from their homes or extinguished from the earth simply because of their ethnic heritage or how they worship God," he said.

The protesters who took to the streets on Friday night were angry at NATO's war to drive Yugoslav troops out of Kosovo, which Washington said was necessary to end repression of the ethnic Albanian majority in the Serbian province.

They were also demonstrating against U.S. support for the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. Clinton said that policy had been based on Cold War concerns.

"When the junta took over in 1967 here, the United States allowed its interests in prosecuting the Cold War to prevail over its interests, I should say its obligation, to support democracy, which was after all the cause for which we fought the Cold War," Clinton said. "It is important that we acknowledge that." The room erupted in applause.

Officials warned on Wednesday that the restrictions would go on until consumption dropped by seven percent.

NATO's bombs put the lights out across Serbia and power cuts continued briefly after the bombing ended. The system was repaired but the EPS officials said its capacity was now limited.

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