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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Holbrooke Steps Up Heat on Karadzic


BELGRADE -- The top U.S. envoy in the Balkans said Wednesday that NATO fully endorses the international effort to unseat Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

On the second stop of his Balkan tour, aimed at toppling Karadzic because he is a war-crimes suspect, Richard Holbrooke met for four hours with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the region's most powerful politician.

"I cannot tell you we made any progress today, and I will not characterize the talks except to say that they were inconclusive and in progress," said Holbrooke, adding that the talks would continue Thursday.

Milosevic has abandoned his former Bosnian Serb ally in an effort to placate the international community. He is the only regional leader strong enough to have Karadzic arrested and delivered to the UN war-crimes tribunal.

In Russia, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov accused the Hague-based tribunal Wednesday of lacking objectivity, Interfax reported.

It quoted him as saying that attempts to seize Karadzic could undermine Bosnian elections planned for Sept. 14.

"Russia has grounds to consider the activities of the international tribunal for former Yugoslavia at The Hague as overpoliticized and unbalanced in the fields where it is expected to work," Primakov said.

Milosevic seems unlikely to act because he fears a backlash by nationalists in Serbia -- as well as the damaging testimony Karadzic could deliver about Milosevic's role in the Bosnian war.

For now, the international community appears ready to settle for something less than Karadzic's arrest.

Senior Western diplomats, who asked for anonymity, said Holbrooke was going to tell Milosevic that Karadzic not only must give up all political functions but must be forced to leave Bosnia in order to increase his isolation.

The Bosnian peace accords ban war-crimes suspects from political office, and Holbrooke alluded to that both on arrival in Belgrade and in Sarajevo before boarding a jet for the Yugoslav capital.

"Our goal is to implement completely and fully the Dayton agreement," he said at Belgrade airport. "Bosnian Serbs are not in compliance."

Because Milosevic signed the Dayton accords on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs, "we want to talk with President Milosevic about what can be done to keep the peace process moving," he said.

?NATO's outgoing commander in Bosnia, Admiral Leighton Smith, was awarded Wednesday the NATO medal for his work in overseeing the alliance's 60,000-strong peace mission. Smith will formally hand over his duties to his successor, Admiral Joseph Lopez, on July 31 at NATO's southern command headquarters -- rear base for the huge air, sea and land operation in Bosnia -- before taking retirement. )