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Del Ponte: EU Should Delay Talks With Serbia Pending War Crimes Arrests


The chief United Nations war crimes prosecutor again has urged the European Union not to resume talks on closer ties with Serbia, until that country arrests and extradites top fugitive war crimes suspects.

Prosecutor Carla del Ponte says Serbian authorities have done nothing to arrest Ratko Mladic - the former top commander of Serb forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina. She said an action plan for his arrest, announced last year, is nothing but "a smokescreen."

The prosecutor spoke to reporters in Brussels after talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

EU officials broke off talks with Serbia last May because of its failure to cooperate with the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Del Ponte recently expressed concern that some EU countries are pressing for a resumption of the talks without an arrest.

Countries urging the change have suggested renewing the talks in hope of strengthening reformist forces, as Serbian political leaders discuss formation of a new coalition government following this month's parliamentary elections.

The U.N. tribunal has indicted Mladic and another suspect, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, for their role in attacks on civilians during the conflict of the 1990s in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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