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The BBC's Bill Hayton
"Re-structuring will be painful"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 19:02 GMT 20:02 UK
Yugoslavia wins US aid breakthrough
Slobodan Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic and daughter-in-law Milica Gajic on Wednesday
Mr Milosevic's wife and daughter-in-law on a prison visit
The United States has agreed to attend a Yugoslavia donor conference which it had been threatening to boycott over Belgrade's failure to extradite Slobodan Milosevic.

The move follows last weekend's decision by the Yugoslav Government to adopt a decree paving the way for Mr Milosevic's handover.


The signature on the cheque won't happen until Belgrade has followed through on its pledges to us

State Department official
The donor conference, with a possible $1bn at stake, is to be held in Brussels on Friday.

US officials say they expect to commit "significant" sums of money to rebuild Yugoslavia's shattered economy.

The US had threatened not to attend unless Mr Milosevic was delivered to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where he is wanted for trial over alleged human rights abuses in Kosovo.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
Mr Milosevic faces imminent extradition
Even after the decree was adopted, the US said it required more information before it would agree to attend the conference.

But on Wednesday, officials at the State Department in Washington confirmed that its representatives would be attending.

"We decided to go, based on the steps that they have taken and assurances they have made to us about co-operation with the (tribunal)," a State Department official told Reuters news agency.

"In Brussels, we expect to make significant pledges because we believe it's in our interests to see Yugoslavia continue on a path toward democracy and economic reform.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica
Mr Kostunica says Mr Milosevic cannot be delivered ahead of conference
"But the signature on the cheque won't happen until Belgrade has followed through on its pledges to us," he added.

The Yugoslav Government welcomed the US decision.

Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac said it was a signal of economic and political support which showed genuine international interest in reforms in Yugoslavia.

On Tuesday Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said it would be impossible to extradite Mr Milosevic before the conference because an appeal by the ex-leader would not be completed by then.

But Tanjug news agency has reported that Yugoslavia's constitutional court will rule on Thursday whether or not the decree is constitutional.

Support

If the decision goes against Mr Milosevic, his lawyers say it could mean his immediate extradition.

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic has also said the former president could be transferred to The Hague before the conference on Friday.

A supporter of Slobodan Milosevic
Supporters of the former president have branded the decree illegal
Several thousand of Mr Milosevic's supporters demonstrated in Belgrade on Tuesday evening against the extradition.

Mr Kostunica, who rejected the idea of co-operating with The Hague when he first took power, acknowledged that US pressure had contributed to his change of heart.

Mr Milosevic has been held in jail since 1 April on charges of corruption and abuse of power. He faces more serious charges of crimes against humanity at the tribunal in The Hague.

If Mr Milosevic is transferred, he will be the first former head of state to be tried by a war crimes tribunal.

He is accused of planning and ordering a campaign of terror, persecution and violence against the Kosovo Albanians at the end of the 1990s.

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27 Jun 01 | Business
Yugoslavia's shattered economy
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