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World reacts to Milosevic arrest

Milosevic was taken to jail in a convoy of government vehicles  

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- International leaders have begun reacting to the arrest of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for corruption and abuse of power.

President George W. Bush praised the arrest and urged that Yugoslavia's former president stand trial on charges he violated international law.

"His arrest represents an important step in bringing to a close the tragic era of his brutal dictatorship," Bush said in a statement on Sunday.

"We cannot and must not forget the chilling images of terrified women and children herded onto trains, emaciated prisoners interned behind barbed wire and mass graves unearthed by U.N. investigators.

"Milosevic's arrest should be a first step toward trying him for the crimes against humanity with which he is charged."

Bush said he was pleased by Yugoslavia's co-operation with the tribunal and called on its leadership to "continue this cooperation and see that Milosevic is likewise brought to justice."

Many western figures and some of Yugoslavia's Balkan neighbours have urged Belgrade to send Milosevic to U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, where Milosevic has been indicted for alleged atrocities in Kosovo.

NATO Secretary-General George Robertson hailed the arrest of Milosevic as a "significant step" for NATO and European Union efforts to bring peace and stability to the Balkan region.

He was speaking after a meeting of the EU's new political and security committee, known by its French acronym COPS, which brings together military and political experts to oversee the Union's slowly emerging common foreign policy.


"We all agreed... (Milosevic's arrest) is a significant step forward in achieving the long-term basis of justice which will produce stability and peace in the region," Robertson said.

"Former president Milosevic faces a lengthy period behind bars as he faces the allegations made against him in his own country and by the international community."

The European Union called the arrest "an important step towards bringing peace and justice to the region."

Member nations have also welcomed the arrest individually.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said: "The Yugoslav Government's prudent approach shows that the democratically elected powers in Yugoslavia are determined to follow the rule of law.

"The intention to start a criminal procedure against Milosevic initially under national law is a first step toward bringing him to account for the gravest offences and human rights abuses he is charged with."

His British counterpart, Robin Cook, said: "This is very welcome news to all those who have struggled so long to bring peace and justice to the Balkans.

"It is another important step towards bringing Milosevic and his cronies to book for their crimes against humanity."

French President Jacques Chirac said he was "overjoyed" and that the Yugoslav authorities had confirmed their faith in the path of democracy and law.

CNN Correspondent Jill Dougherty said there are mixed feelings over the arrest in Russia but the Kremlin sees the arrest as a reaction to Western pressure.

Russia had stood by Milosevic and was slow to recognise Kostunica as the new Yugoslav president. Lately, Dougherty said, Russia had begun to distance itself from him.

But Russia, which has denounced what it called outside pressure, opposes turning him over to the tribunal.

Senior Bosnian Advisor Mirza Hajric said the arrest was a step in the right direction and a test whether Yugoslav authorities respect international standards.

"It is an absolute obligation to send Milosevic to The Hague. We want to see justice done so we can start with reconciliation and build permanent peace," Hajric said.

Del Ponte welcomes Belgrade move
Kostunica criticises warcrimes process
Milosevic greets anti-NATO protesters
Serbs hand over war crimes suspect
Milosevic net tightens, U.N. told
Police surround Milosevic home
Police arrest Milosevic aides

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Milosevic et al. Indictment Information Sheet
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Serbia Ministry of Information
Serbia Ministry of Interior

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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