Yugoslavia renews diplomatic links with Nato countries

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The Independent Online

In a key step toward reconciliation with Nato countries, Yugoslavia has renewed diplomatic ties with the United States, Germany, France and Britain.

In a key step toward reconciliation with Nato countries, Yugoslavia has renewed diplomatic ties with the United States, Germany, France and Britain.

The move, which was confirmed by sources close to Yugoslavia's secretary for information, comes more than a year after former President Slobodan Milosevic broke off such relations after the start of Nato's 78-day air war.

Yugoslavia's decision comes one day after the U.S. Balkan envoy, James C. O'Brien, took part in negotiations on the details about resuming ties. Mr O'Brien cautioned that substantial American aid would only follow if Yugoslavia cooperated with the UN tribunal investigating war crimes in the Balkans.

The talks with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica included discussions about "substantial" US aid to Yugoslavia. Mr O'Brien did not specify the amount in question.

President Kostunica has balked at efforts to send Mr Milosevic and a handful of his loyalists to stand trial in The Hague, Netherlands. He has said they should stand trial in Yugoslavia.

A US office, dealing with aid and trade issues, has already been set up in a Belgrade hotel. Officials also plan to repair the former embassy building and return to it next year. The building was abandoned and defaced by graffiti during the air war.

France quickly issued a statement saying that it welcomed the decision of the Yugoslav authorities to re-establish diplomatic relations, calling it "a positive new development."

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