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Croatia: Zagreb Refuses To Exempt U.S. From War Crimes Prosecution

Zagreb, 12 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Croatia is refusing to sign a treaty with the United States exempting U.S. citizens from prosecution by the new international war crimes court. Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic said Croatia cannot sign the treaty because of "political and legal reasons." He made the comments today in Zagreb after talks with U.S. diplomats and defense officials.

Simonovic also said, however, that Croatia still hopes to resolve the issue through a separate bilateral arrangement with Washington.

The United States fears what it calls "political" prosecutions of its citizens by the International Criminal Court. It has warned that countries could lose military and other assistance from the United States unless they sign the exemption treaty by 1 July. Thirty-seven countries have so far signed.

The European Union, which Croatia wants to join, has warned Croatia not to exempt U.S. citizens.