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Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK

World: Europe

Nato: 'Iraq helped Serbs'

Belgrade used 'Iraqi tactics', Nato says

The Yugoslav military has taken lessons from Iraq in how to shoot down enemy aircraft, according to Nato.

Kosovo: Special Report

General Sir Charles Guthrie, chief of UK defence staff, told a news conference that Baghdad and Belgrade had seen a "continuous two-way flow of military and defence industry delegations, discussing primarily Iraqi military requirements".

General Guthrie: Iraqi tactics used over Serbia
"Earlier this month, a Serbian delegation toured Iraqi air defence sites, no doubt to learn how to down allied aircraft," Gen Guthrie said.

[ image: Guthrie: 'Close relationship between Saddam and Milosevic']
Guthrie: 'Close relationship between Saddam and Milosevic'
"We have seen some of these Iraqi tactics put into place over Serbia."

"All of this adds up to a close relationship between Saddam and Milosevic," Gen Guthrie concluded.

BBC Baghdad Correspondent Richard Downes confirmed that an 18-strong Yugoslav delegation had visited Baghdad as guests of the Iraqi Government in early March.

Richard Downes in Baghdad: Ring of truth about Nato's suggestions
They said they were visiting for "business", but refused to disclose any further details when questioned about the precise nature of the business.

Warning to Iraq

Last week the US Assistant Secretary of State, Martin Indyk, warned the Iraqis not to try and take advantage of Nato's engagement in the Balkans.

Mr Indyk said the Kosovo crisis would not stop the US from dealing with any challenge from Baghdad, which has vowed to defy the US-imposed air exclusion zones over Iraq.

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