Hope on the Balkans Kosov@ Crisis 2000
US: Papandreou-Milosevic meeting regrettable
WASHINGTON, Friday -- The US Administration last night described yesterday's meeting between Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as "regrettable". An unnamed State Department official quoted by Beta said that it was regrettable that any European leader of Papandreou's rank should meet an indicted war criminal.
Greek TV Mega later commented that the criticism had directly on the orders of Secretary for State Madeleine Albright. Papandreou responded by saying that Greece did not need anybody's permission for its diplomatic initiatives.
Prominent opposition leader Vladan Batic yesterday accused Serbian police of creating what he described as a first-class diplomatic scandal by detaining four members of Otpor at a reception for Papandreou in the Greek Residence in Belgrade last night. On of the four told Radio B2-92 that they had been invited to attend the reception and that once inside the residence a security guard intervened and they were escorted into a waiting police van. After being detained in a police station for an hour and a half they were released without explanation, he said.
Papandreou later told Radio B2-92 that he was concerned at the arrests, adding that he had discussed the issue with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic who had assured him h would do his best to solve the problem.
Papandreou is the first foreign minister from a European Union country to visit Yugoslavia since last year's NATO attacks. In addition to his meetings with Milosevic and Jovanovic, he also held discussions Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and opposition presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica.
In Pristina today, Papandreou today spoke to UN Kosovo Administrator Bernard Kouchner on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the peace process in Kosovo. Papandreou told media after the meeting that Greece wanted to contribute to these processes. He also condemned the recent attacks on groups of Serb children, calling for a democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful society. "Athens believes that the Balkans do not need a new change of borders," said Kouchner, emphasising that this was the position of all EU members.
Former Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hashim Thaqi failed to appear at a scheduled meeting with Papandreou in Pristina. Sources quoted by Beta interpreted this as a sign that Thaqi was toeing the US line by not cooperating with a visit the US would rather not have happened.
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