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Bush Presses Yugoslav President to Extradite Milosevic

After a visit to the White House yesterday, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica stopped short of agreeing to turn over his predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic, but did say he would support a pending law that would allow his extradition.

In a sign of increasing pressure, U.S. leaders said they would not participate in an upcoming international donors conference intended to raise up to $1 billion for Yugoslavia, still struggling to recover from a 1999 NATO bombing campaign and decades of economic and political corruption.

“The president stated clearly that Milosevic must face justice for his international crimes,” said White House spokesman Mary Ellen Countryman.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who met earlier this week with Hague prosecutor Carla del Ponte, placed a hold on additional aid beyond the $100 million already promised to Yugoslavia, until futher evidence of cooperation with the Hague tribunal.

Milosevic, who was ousted from power last fall after 13 years, was indicted by the war crimes tribunal in 1999 for the slaughter of thousands of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Hague prosecutors are also working on additional indictments for war crimes committed against Bosnian Muslims and Croats.

Milosevic has been jailed in Belgrade since April, awaiting trial on domestic charges of corruption and abuse of power. Kostunica, a constitutional lawyer and moderate nationalist, has insisted that Milosevic be tried locally for abuses against the Yugoslav people and not turned over to the Hague.

Many in the international community, however, are watching anxiously for signs of Yugoslav interest in trying Milosevic for crimes committed against non-Serbs.

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