American who would be PM

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(First Edition)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Yugoslav-born US businessman said yesterday that he had been appointed prime minister of a 'new Yugoslavia' and would go to Belgrade to accept the post.

Milan Panic, who would lead the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, the states remaining under the name Yugoslavia, vowed in a statement 'to see that free, fair and democratic elections take place at all levels throughout the country within a matter of months'. Mr Panic owns a pharmaceuticals company in California and is a US citizen.

Mr Panic said he felt honoured at the appointment by the Yugoslav President, Dobica Cosic, and said he would leave immediately for Belgrade 'to accept the task of forming and leading a government for the new Yugoslavia as the country's prime minister'.

The State Department spokeswoman, Margaret Tutwiler, said: 'We do not endorse, support or have any views about his serving as prime minister.' It was not clear how much support Mr Panic would have in Yugoslavia, in particular from the Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic. Mr Panic said his own family included Serbs, Croats and Muslims and 'reflects the diversity of this complex region'.