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Serbia: Riot Police Retake Positions In Belgrade Streets

Belgrade, 10 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Police have re-established a cordon against demonstrators after thousands of student protestors earlier today succeeded in getting authorities in the city to withdraw from their positions, reports our correspondent in Belgrade.

About 20,000 demonstrators reportedly were blocked from marching through the city's central avenues by hundreds of riot police this afternoon.

But reports say police are losing their battle to divert traffic from the city center and prevent demonstrators from creating traffic jams with their vehicles. Correspondents say rush hour traffic was becoming hopelessly congested.

Students and riot police stood face-to-face overnight until police unexpectedly pulled back and allowed them to march. The students wrote a protest letter to Deputy Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic and attempted to meet with him. The letter reportedly was received by a doorman at Marjanovic's office building.

Meanwhile, the Contact Group on former Yugoslavia will meet in Brussels tomorrow amid expectations that the five nations will seek a common stance on Serbia. The group includes the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Russia.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, John Kornblum, is expected to arrive in Brussels late tonight. He is scheduled to travel to Zagreb and Sarajevo tomorrow.