US: Ousted President must not get asylum

International Reaction
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The Independent Online

As the international community struggled to adjust to the the diplomatic and regional implications of the "people's revolution" in Serbia, the US said it would not support any future role for Slobodan Milosevic.

As the international community struggled to adjust to the the diplomatic and regional implications of the "people's revolution" in Serbia, the US said it would not support any future role for Slobodan Milosevic.

A White House spokesman, Jake Siewert, was reacting to comments by the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, who met President Milosevic in Belgrade and said the Serb leader, indicted as a war criminal for Yugoslavia's actions in Kosovo, planned to continue his political role through his party.

Mr Siewert said Washington would not "endorse nor support" any move for a foreign country to give Mr Milosevic asylum.

Vojislav Kostunica was "the democratically elected leader of Serbia", said Mr Siewert. The US and its European allies would move quickly to lift sanctions on Yugoslavia once it was clear Mr Milosevic had been removed from power.

The revolution has been greeted with caution in Kosovo and Bosnia, and the German Defence Minister, Rudolf Scharping, said it was too early to consider withdrawing the Nato-led peace-keeping forces in both territories. "First it must be clear that there has actually been a change of power in Belgrade," he said. "Then peace and stability must return to Serbia. Only when all that has been achieved can we talk about how long the international associations will be needed on the ground."

The 22,000-strong Stabilisation Force (S-For) has been in Bosnia since the end of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, whileK-For was set up after Nato troops entered Kosovo in June last year after the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Among the first Western officials to visit Belgrade is Thorbjoern Jagland, Norway's Foreign Minister, due today. He said Norway would concentrate more of its foreign aid on Yugoslavia, but in Washington Mr Siewert said there were some sanctions, particularly aimed at Mr Milosevic "and his cronies", that would remain.Earlier the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, welcomed Russia's recognition of Mr Kostunica, but warned that Mr Milosevic might still be capable of causing bloodshed.

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