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Milosevic stalls extradition move

Milosevic rally
A supporter embraces a poster of Slobodan Milosevic at a rally in Belgrade  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. will attend a donors conference for Yugoslavia, a senior State Department official told CNN.

The Bush administration will pledge "substantial support" to help rebuild Yugoslavia, the official added.

But disbursement of any U.S. funds will be conditional upon Belgrade's full cooperation with the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague.

"We'll attend the conference because it is in our interest to see Yugoslavia rebuild and because of the steps they have taken and the assurances they have given us," the official said.

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CNN's Alessio Vinci: Yugoslav government is under pressure
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"But we won't sign any checks until Yugoslavia has lived up to their pledges to us."

This week Belgrade initiated legal proceedings for Milosevic's transfer to the war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

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Yugoslavia polarised by Milosevic debate (June 24)

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Yugoslav officials call it the official beginning of his extradition to the Hague.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said that it was unlikely Milosevic could be extradited before Friday's conference, but that Belgrade was committed to his transfer.

The move comes days before the conference in Belgium, which is jointly sponsored by the European Commission and the World Bank.

Belgrade hopes to raise $1.3 billion to rebuild its war-torn country.

State Department Richard Boucher said on Tuesday the "positive steps" taken by Belgrade would be an "important factor" in the administration's decision on whether to attend the conference.

"I would point to these developments as being very positive indicators of their intention to cooperate, and they will be considered carefully as we decide," he said.

After U.S. threats to hold aid to Belgrade for failing to cooperate with the Hague, Yugoslav authorities arrested Milosevic on April 1 of this year on abuse of power allegations.

The next day Secretary of State Colin Powell certified that Yugoslavia met the conditions for U.S. assistance.

But he said the United States would not make a decision on further aid or support for the conference until Belgrade took more steps to cooperate.

On Monday, U.S. Ambassador William Montgomery met Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in Belgrade to discuss the government's efforts.

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A senior State Department official said the discussion showed that Belgrade is working "swiftly and with determination" to fully cooperate with the Hague.

European diplomats tell CNN that the EU has been pushing United States to support the conference, in the wake of moves by Belgrade to extradite Milosevic. One diplomat said it was important to "encourage" Belgrade's efforts.

"It was not an easy political decision at home for Kostunica," he said. "It is fairly obvious the Yugoslav government seems to be pushing on and we hope the U.S. will be on board."





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• International Criminal tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
• Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

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