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US Calls on Serbia to Hand Over Karadzic and Mladic

The United States is urging Serbia to bring the two most-wanted war crimes suspects from the Bosnian War to justice. The State Department comments came Monday, as the world marked the 10th anniversary of the massacre of about eight-thousand Muslim men and boys by Serb forces in the Bosnian town of .

State Department spokesman Tom Casey spoke of the significance of Srebrenica, a U.N.-protected enclave during the Bosnian war that was overrun by Serb forces, who murdered thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys. "I think that what we need to remember is that the tragic events in Srebrenica are something that shocked the world and that require us to reflect as we look to move forward," he said.

The spokesman added that in order to move forward, though, the United States wants two key figures who are accused of war crimes, the war-time leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, General Ratko Mladic, brought to justice.

"It's long overdue. We want to see them face justice for their crimes, and we certainly hope that the government in Serbia and the governments elsewhere in the region will do everything that they can to see that they are brought to justice and that they are held accountable for the crimes they've committed," he said.

In June, the United States released $10 million in U.S. aid that had been suspended in January because of Serbia's poor record of facilitating the work of the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

Coffins of 613 Bosnian Muslims discovered in mass graves in Potocari
The U.S. spokesman said the decision to re-certify Belgrade for U.S. aid was taken after Serbian authorities handed over 12 war crimes suspects for prosecution by the court in The Hague. "Obviously, the lifting of that suspension was done in recognition of what had been done to date, but for continued progress to be made, a number (of) things had to happen. And that includes getting to the very serious issue of turning over the two most important war criminals who remain outstanding, and that's Mladic and Karadzic," he said.

Mr. Casey said Serbian authorities have expressed interest in apprehending the two men. But he added that, on this issue, the United States wants to see Serbia back up its words with action.