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Rice Says Milosevic One of Most Malign Forces in Europe


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says history has already given its verdict on Slobodan Milosevic, even though he died before The Hague tribunal could pass judgment. Rice says the former Yugoslav president was one of the most malign forces in Europe.

Secretary Rice says it might have been better if The Hague tribunal had been able to render a judgment on Slobodan Milosevic. But, she says, the final verdict of history is already clear, that the former Yugoslav president was one of the most malign forces in Europe for quite a long time.

In an airborne talk with reporters on the first leg of a long flight from Chile to Indonesia, the secretary said Milosevic was undoubtedly responsible for the deaths of many, many people in the Balkans conflicts, as well as the breakup of Yugoslavia, and the long-term estrangement of its parts from the international community.

However, she sounded a positive note on the future of the Balkans region, saying that good things are beginning to arise after the Milosevic era. And, she said, the United States wants to see a better future for the people of Serbia-and-Montenegro, and is working with them to achieve this and their free integration with the rest of Europe.

Rice is on a globe-circling mission that began with the inauguration of Chile's new president, Michelle Bachelet, and will continue, starting late Monday, with her first visit to Indonesia as secretary of state.

In her in-flight news conference, the secretary defended the Bush administration's decision to re-establish military aid and defense ties with Indonesia, after a year's long break over human rights issues.

She said Indonesia increasingly is a real success story, hailing it for democratic elections, for resolving separatist conflicts over East Timor and Aceh and what she said was excellent cooperation with the United States on counter-terrorism.

The secretary said she would urge largely Muslim Indonesia to use its influence to prod the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas to adhere to what she said was an international consensus for Hamas to renounce violence, and recognize Israel's right to exist.

While the United States has said it will not provide aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government, because of the organization's record of terrorism, Rice said the Bush administration was looking for ways to even increase U.S. humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.

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