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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 22:06 GMT
US threatens to cut Yugoslav aid
Carla Del Ponte and Colin Powell
Del Ponte and Powell: United in criticism
Yugoslavia could lose $40m in vital financial aid if it does not start to co-operate with the international war crimes tribunal, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has warned.


If they are not deserving they won't get it

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
A deadline looms at the end of this month for the United States Congress to on whether Yugoslavia has met the conditions for a new tranche of cash.

"If they are not deserving they won't get it. If they are, they will, and they know what they have to do and we'll keep the pressure on," said Mr Powell after meeting the tribunal's Chief Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte.

Diplomats have speculated that the 31 March cut-off date could provoke the last minute arrests of wanted war crimes suspects similar to that of Slobodan Milosevic this time last year.

Divisions

"We noted the lack of progress on the part of the authorities in Belgrade with respect to the work of the tribunal," said Mr Powell, following the talks with Ms Del Ponte.

Milosevic arrest
A funding deadline sparked the Milosevic arrest
Yugoslavia has been criticised for failing to hand over several indicted war crimes suspects to the tribunal, some of whom remain in public life, such as Serbian President Milan Milutinovic.

"I told [Ms Del Ponte] we would redouble our efforts to get the kind of co-operation we need," said Mr Powell.

Ms Del Ponte is a long standing critic of what she considers to be Belgrade's obstruction of the tribunal's work.

Co-operation with the tribunal is a divisive issue in Yugoslavia. It is opposed by President Vojislav Kostunica but supported by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

Arrests expected

The dramatic arrest of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in April last year coincided with a deadline for international aid, which was subsequently granted.

Now there is speculation that Yugoslav authorities will carry out other high-profile arrests to secure more funds.

But Congress will also demand proof that Kosovo Albanians are being released from Serbian jails - another condition of further aid.

Yugoslavia's economy has been devastated by years of mismanagement and by Nato's 1999 bombing campaign and is in desperate need of funds.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Europe
The Hague looms over the Balkans
05 Sep 01 | Europe
The Hague's wanted men
19 Feb 02 | Europe
Kostunica attacks Milosevic trial
19 Feb 02 | Europe
The Milosevic case: Timeline
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