- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2001

The final sanctions

The Washington visit of Goran Svilanovic was historic enough. The foreign minister of Yugoslavia would have been barred from visiting the United States just a few months ago.

However Mr. Svilanovic represents a new Yugoslavia, one that has rejected Slobodan Milosevic, the former authoritarian leader and architect of the Balkan wars of the last decade.

Mr. Svilanovic met Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright last week and told reporters that his government will cooperate with an international war crimes tribunal that has indicted Mr. Milosevic.

Upon his return to Belgrade on Saturday, however, he insisted that any war crimes trials involving Yugoslav nationals would have to be held in that country.

Even with all the praise heaped on the new government of President Vojislav Kostunica, economic sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia complicated his travel plans from Belgrade.

Mr. Svilanovic said one of the most important messages he delivered in Washington was to call for a prompt lifting of the remaining sanctions, which include prohibitions on direct flights to the United States by the Yugoslav national airline.

"There are plenty of problems," Mr. Svilanovic told reporters at the National Press Club Friday.

"People in my country would like to see stability, to really start a normal life," he said.

"Not all the sanctions have been lifted, but certainly [we] hope to see a lifting of sanctions quite soon, and then we can go into more detailed discussion on what the real economic perspective for the country is."

Saturday in Belgrade, he said he expected the sanctions to be lifted in a matter of days.

Yugoslavia broke diplomatic relations with the United States in 1999, after the beginning of the U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign. Relations were renewed in November, following Mr. Kostunica's victory in the September presidential elections.

Yugoslav also has restored relations with other NATO members involved in the campaign to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

Mr. Svilanovic, a longtime human rights advocate, said the election and massive street protests against Mr. Milosevic were more than "a simple change of government."

"These events triggered a process of fundamental changes in Yugoslav society, the establishment of a truly democratic government and a move toward substantial economic reforms," he said.

"This democratic revolution marks the end of a most painful and dramatic decade in the history of Yugoslavia."

New from Peru

Manuel Rodriguez begins his service today as Peru's ambassador to the Organization of American States by signing a major human rights treaty that arose from the dark days of Latin American military dictatorships.

Mr. Rodriguez will sign the InterAmerican Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons as his first official act, after presenting his credentials to OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria.

Peru will be the 15th nation to sign the treaty since its adoption in 1994 at a conference in Brazil.

Chinese pandamania

Chinese Ambassador Li Zhaoxing will spend much of his time this week celebrating the opening of the giant panda exhibit at the National Zoo.

China has loaned Mei Xiang, a 2 and 1/2-year-old female panda, and Tian Tian, a 3 and 1/2-year-old male, to the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park for 10 years and is due to receive $10 million in private donations to help preserve pandas in the wild.

Mr. Li has invited guests to the Chinese Embassy tonight for a reception and concert by the Washington Symphony Orchestra.

On Wednesday, he will attend an 11 a.m. ceremony at the zoo to open the panda exhibit. He will be accompanied by Chen Jianwei, deputy director of the conservation department of China's State Forestry Administration, and Chen Runseng, deputy secretary general of the China Wildlife Conservation Association.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors due in Washington this week include:


• An Ethiopian government delegation visits to promote trade with the United States.

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