Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 19:32 GMT 20:32 UK
EU backs Serbian opposition
The EU has said it will provide humanitarian aid
Foreign ministers of the European Union have approved a plan to provide heating oil to two towns controlled by the opposition in Serbia.
Serbia's power grid was badly damaged by Nato airstrikes earlier this year.
But EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten acknowledged the plan was risky while Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remained in power.
The EU ministers also decided to leave in force a flight ban on Yugoslavia which excludes the territory of Kosovo and Yugoslavia's junior republic of Montenegro.
They objected to a draft statement which made future aid to Belgrade dependent not only on a restoration of democracy there, but to the handing over of war crimes suspects.
The president was making a rare appearance in front of a specially assembled crowd in the southeastern town of Leskovac to open a newly built railway station.
EU plan in trouble
The European plan has been opposed by the United States, which fears that it would help President Milosevic.
Among the Serb opposition leaders who stayed away was Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party - the dominant force within the Alliance for Change.
The BBC Belgrade correspondent, Jacky Rowland, says the War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is seen by many as primarily set up to prosecute Serbs.
Opponents of Mr Milosevic are also reluctant to sign up to the EU deal because this might tarnish their image among Serbs.
Zoran Djindjic said on Sunday that the EU insistence on an extradition pledge raised questions about the wisdom of attending the Luxembourg meeting.
"Our main priority is the coming winter and the possible humanitarian catastrophe," Mr Djindjic told the Associated Press.
The initial EU funding for the "Energy for Democracy" package will come to about $3m, plus contributions by individual governments.