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Yugoslavia: EU's Solana Makes First Visit Since NATO Bombing

Belgrade, 8 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has arrived in Belgrade today to start his first visit to Yugoslavia since 1999's NATO bombing campaign. He's being joined by Anna Lindh, the foreign minister of Sweden, current holder of the EU rotating presidency, and European external affairs commission Chris Patten. During a brief visit, Solana and the others are due to meet Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

Talks are expected to focus on cooperation with the EU and political developments in the region, including the situation in southern Serbia and relations with Montenegro.

Solana was one of 14 Western leaders sentenced by a Belgrade court last September for NATO's air war to halt repression in Kosovo. Vojislav Seselj -- leader of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party -- has said Solana, who served as NATO secretary general during the NATO operation, should be arrested when he arrives in Belgrade. But new Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic has said the trial -- which took place under former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic -- was a farce.

Separately, clashes between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb police have been reported in southern Serbia near the border with its province Kosovo.

The Beta news agency says the rebels fired first on Serb police near the village of Vranje late last night. The agency says the Serb police reported no losses. It also quoted regional police chief Novica Zdravkovic as saying the alleged attack was proof that the Albanian rebels did not want a peaceful solution to the crisis.

The violence came a day after the governments of Serbia and Yugoslavia approved a peace plan for the Presevo Valley of southern Serbia and a convoy carrying U.S. officials in the area was shot at, causing the U.S. ambassador to cut short his visit.