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Press Release on damage to the residence of the Ambassador of India in Belgrade

New Delhi
May 22, 1999

Government of India is gravely concerned over the incident that took place at around 2020 Hrs in the night of May 20, 1999, involving damage to the residence of the Ambassador of India in Belgrade, as an immediate and direct result of aerial bombing by NATO forces against targets close to the Ambassador's residence. We have conveyed our serious concern to the NATO Headquarters in Brussels in a strong protest lodged with them.We expect an appropriate response from NATO,

2. India's position on the continuing hostilities is well known and has been made clear through its statements of March 24, March 25 and May 11, 1999. The continuing NATO action against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is ultra vires of the UN charter and contrary to international law. We would like to recall that the recurrence of seriously untoward incidents confirm once again that there is something fundamentally wrong in NATO's approach to the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Inkeeping with the sentiment of a large part of the international community, we would once agan reiterate the imperative need for an immediate end to NATO's military operations and a dialogue between the parties involved towards a negotiated political solution of the conflict.

3. This incident comes in the wake of similar incidents involving physical and material damage affecting the Embassies of other countries in Belgrade. It is particularly alarming that this has happened desite the addresses of the chancery and residential premises of the Indian Embassy having been provided to the US Government on the request of the latter soon after the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. There is naturally an apprehension that NATO's continued aerial bombing of Belgrade coud lead to further incidents of this nature whch might be even more serious. Government's consistent view is that any damage to diplomatic premises or personnel through such occurrences intended or otherwise, has to be firmly condemned.

4. Government is in close and constant touch with our Embassy in Belgrade. All the personnel in the Mission are safe and the Embassy is carrying out its functions. Government has taken all action necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of the Embassy personnel and their families. In this connection a senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs visited Belgrade from May 17-19, and met the officials of the Embassy and their families to enquire about their welfare, as well as to update the steps required for their safety and for the proper functioning of the Embassy, and the security of the premises.