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Serbia: U.S. Urges OSCE To Meet With Both Sides

Vienna, 4 February 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The United States has proposed that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) organize an urgent special meeting in Prague between the Yugoslav government and the opposition to try and defuse the political crisis.

OSCE officials said the United States made the proposal yesterday afternoon. It is being considered today by the governments of the European Union. Officials said some European governments are doubtful that the meeting could achieve anything.

Our correspondent says that such a meeting would normally be held in Vienna where OSCE has most of its offices. But OSCE regulations require such a top-level meeting to be held in Prague because the secretariat is located there.

The United States proposed that the OSCE be represented by its senior council. This consists of the political directors of the foreign ministries of all 54 OSCE members.

An RFE/RL correspondent says the meeting would be unusual because Yugoslavia is no longer an active member of OSCE. Its membership was suspended in July 1992 because of its responsibility for the war.

However OSCE officials in Vienna said today the crisis in Belgrade was perceived as a threat to stability and this took priority over the suspension.

Yesterday the current OSCE chairman, Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helvig Petersen, expressed dismay at the new use of force against peaceful demonstrators in Belgrade. He said the "citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have a right to peacefully express their opinions through demonstrations."

Petersen also called on the Belgrade authorities to engage in a constructive dialogue with the opposition on future democratic reforms. He said OSCE was ready to help facilitate such a dialogue.