Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday called for patience in judging the NATO campaign in Libya, comparing it to the 1999 Kosovo intervention that ended up ousting Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.
"We`ve been at this a relatively short period of time," Hillary said. "I would remind you that the United States and other partners bombed targets in Serbia for 78 days."
In 1999, a NATO operation was launched to push forces loyal to the former Yugoslav president out of the province of Kosovo, where they led a campaign against separatist Kosovar Albanians.
Hillary said the campaign was a success in protecting Kosovars, but Milosevic remained in power.
"But," Hillary said, "there had been a dynamic put into motion that eventually led to his being in The Hague," before an international criminal court.
Milosevic was accused of crimes against humanity. He died before completion of his trial.
On Libya, Hillary said strikes on the city of Misrata represent an "inhumanity" by forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi. Regime forces, she said, are "engaged in activities that are deplorable and which target directly civilians”.
"But the opposition fighters are holding their own against that onslaught," she added, attributing that in part to the NATO action.
Hillary added that, "There are even reports that Gaddafi`s forces may have used cluster bombs against their own people."
Human Rights Watch on April 15 condemned what it said was the use of cluster bombs the night before by Gaddafi forces on residential areas of Misrata.
Also on Thursday, Hillary and Uri Rosenthal, the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, discussed "ways to put more of a financial pressure on Gaddafi`s regime," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
Most governments have frozen bank accounts held by Gaddafi and his family.