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Serbia: OSCE Has Not Received Invitation From Milosevic

Vienna, 13 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Coooperation in Europe (OSCE), which sends observers to monitor elections, says it has not yet received a request from Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to send a delegation to Belgrade. In an open letter published today answering U.S. criticism of disputed local elections, Milosevic invited an OSCE delegation to visit rump Yugoslavia and "be informed truthfully."

A spokeswoman for the Vienna-based OSCE, Melissa Fleming, says the organization cannot react to the offer until it has received a formal invitation from Belgrade authorities and studied the details.

"We would have to look at the invitation carefully and consider any conditions made in it," she said.

The United States has led Western attacks on Milosevic's refusal to accept opposition victories in local elections in Serbia on November 17.

The authorities overturned the results in Belgrade and other towns claimed by the opposition, citing unspecified "irregularities."

Yugoslavia -- comprising Serbia and Montenegro -- had its membership of the OSCE suspended in 1992 after Belgrade was accused of stoking the war in neighboring Bosnia.

In the open letter to U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Milosevic pledged that his government will not use force against demonstrators as long as their protests are peaceful.

But Milosevic says the police will respond to vandalism, violations of public order and threats to the security of citizens and property.

Tens of thousands of protesters in Serbia have been conducting daily demonstrations against Milosevic and his socialist government, demanding the authorities reverse their annulment of the oppposition's vitcories in most large Serbian towns and cities in municipal elections last month.

In the letter, Milosevic denied his government manipulated the elections. He criticized a letter from Christopher that called for a reversal of the annulment of the November 17 municipal election results.

Milosevic says accusations that Serbian authorities annulled the elections are as he puts it, an "invention." He says Serbian government institutions are responsible for dealing with any irregularities.

Milosevic accuses the opposition of behaving like vandals and of resorting to what he terms "political terrorism" by sending young people into the streets and blocking the center of Belgrade.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said yesterday Milosevic is so far removed from political reality that he is digging himself into a hole of his own making.