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The BBC's Mike Donkin at the UN in New York
"The UN's special prosecutor has called this good news"
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Elizabeth Anderson from US based Human Rights Watch
"The real test is his transfer to the Hague"
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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
Kostunica pushes for war crimes law
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica in Washington
Mr Kostunica met with George Bush in Washington
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has said that he wants legislation enabling Belgrade to co-operate with the UN war crimes tribunal in place by the end of the month.

He was returning from the United States, where President George W Bush made it clear that US support for Yugoslavia depended on Belgrade's willingness to extradite former President Slobodan Milosevic.

US participation in the donors' conference is still in doubt

Vojislav Kostunica
Yugoslavia hopes to have US backing for a donors' conference tentatively planned for June, at which Belgrade hopes to raise $1bn.

Mr Kostunica said that passing the extradition law might not be enough to assure US support.

"I will firmly push for the government to finish work on a draft cooperation law by the end of the month," he said.

But, he added, "this might not suffice and US participation in the donors conference is still in doubt".


A State Department official in Washington said on Wednesday that there was no one thing that Belgrade needed to do to guarantee support, but that the US would like to see a date set for the transfer of Mr Milosevic.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
Mr Milosevic has become a sticking point
The UN war crimes tribunal has indicted him and other Serbs for crimes allegedly committed in 1999 by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo.

Prosecutor Carla del Ponte has demanded that Belgrade hand Mr Milosevic and other suspects over for trial in The Hague without delay.

On Thursday, Mr Kostunica said that a law on co-operating with the tribunal was necessary before Belgrade could consider extraditing Mr Milosevic.

Yugoslav Prime Minister Zoran Zizic said a draft law had already been prepared by experts and that the government would debate it within two weeks.

Possible change

Mr Kostunica's latest comments may have marked a change in policy.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Mr Powell is not yet backing the conference
Since Mr Milosevic was arrested on 1 April, President Kostunica has maintained that he must be tried at home for corruption and abuse of power before anyone else has a chance to prosecute him.

A White House spokeswoman emphasised on Wednesday that "US ability to assist Yugoslavia depends on Belgrade's relations with the tribunal".

US Secretary of State Colin Powell approved the release of $100m in US aid to Yugoslavia after Mr Milosevic was arrested.

But he has reserved support for the planned donors' conference.

Yugoslavia's economy was destroyed by war and sanctions during 13 years of rule by Mr Milosevic.

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02 Apr 01 | Europe
US approves Yugoslav aid
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